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Thread: A Celebration of Showa Godzilla Cinema

  1. #26
    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    FYI - I haven't forgotten about this. Things have been a little chaotic on the home front. Hoping to pick this back up once things settle down some more.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  2. #27
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    I might not post because I have nothing useful to add but I've been reading.

  3. #28
    quarantined Skitch's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Grouchy (view post)
    I might not post because I have nothing useful to add but I've been reading.
    Same here. Good shit.
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  4. #29
    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)



    Fortunately for Godzilla fans, King Kong vs. Godzilla took a franchise who's flame was nearly out and poured gasoline on it, and Toho recognized they had a license to print money in Godzilla battling some other famous big monster - all they had to do was to figure out who to put the big lizard up against. They had a few to choose from: Rodan and Mothra had already released to the theatres to pretty significant success in their own rights, so no need to import an adversary from overseas this time. Ultimately, of course, Mothra got the nod because it served as a better good guy foil for Godzilla, who was still very much a villain, and more importantly because, well, Mothra was much more bankable than Rodan.

    So, with the match set for April 20th 1964, just a few weeks before Golden Week, the week around which the entire Japanese calendar revolves (think Christmas, Easter, Halloween and your birthday all rolled into one), General Tomoyuki Tanaka assembled his team: Ishrio Honda behind the camera? Check. Eiji Tsubaraya making shit blow up? Check. Akira Ifukube composing the soundtrack and arguing with Honda about what music plays when? Check.

    Of course, Toho dug into their stable of actors for some familiar faces in front of the camera: Akira Takarada, the main protaganist from the first Godzie film returns as an intrepid reporter trying to get to the bottom of this big-ass egg that has washed ashore south of Tokyo. Hiroshi Koizumi, the main protaganist from the second Godzie film (and the main protaganist from the first Mothra film), returns as the trusted scientist, a role he would reprise in Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster. And naturually, bad-ass Haruo Nakajima returned to don the rubber suit as Godzilla himself, and had a significant amount of imput into the design, resulting in a much more mobile, durable suit, which showed onscreen in the form of a much more animated and expressive Godzilla.



    However, the two real gems in front of the camera are among the lesser-lauded of the Toho Actors Studio. Yuriko Hoshi positively shined as Takarada's plucky, fuck-you-I'll-do-things-my-own-way photographer, which given that this was 1964 and women were supposed to act like June Cleaver, was kind of a big deal. At the same time, she served as the moral compass of team hero, despite her badassery. All told, she's probably my favorite female character in all of daikaiju cinema, in all its eras.



    And finally, there was Toho workhorse Yoshifumi Tajima, pretty much a bit actor in every Toho daikaiju flick that ever was, but in this film he was given a role he could really sink his teeth into in Kumayama, the slimebag realestate developer who sheisters some local fisherman out of a giant mothra egg so he can build an amusement park around it. And boy oh boy, did he really have fun with the role. He really captured the whole smiling out of one side of his mouth, sniveling out of the other kind of villain that, the moment he swaggered on screen, you were counting the minutes to the scene where he would finally buy it. Shit, he even had a hitler stash. I would even go so far as to say he had the most punch-able face in the world until Stephen Miller (not the space cowboy; the other one) came along.

    (Side note: the heros are a scientist and newsies, the villain is a realestate developer. Perhaps if you are a Trump supporter, this film might not be for you.)

    And another interesting side note, was that the popular singing duo of the time, The Peanuts, were recruited as The Cosmos - Mothra's Tiny Little Muses. The casting of them was purely a publicity play - Toho recognized that they needed to lure in younger audiences who were suckling on the cathode ray nipple that was television.

    Thematically, Honda was at it again - he conceded that in order to please the Toho execs by making a movie that would get asses in seats, he had to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible - from the grown-ups who wanted to see shit blow up to the young-uns who wanted some cute and cuddly visuals.

    And of course, auteurs gotta aut, so he wanted to spin in some moral play in there as well, which you, intrepid match cut reader, have already figured out by now - mainly the folly of man's greed, and the theme of futility of human efforts in the face of nature's fury, which is as much a recurring daikaiju theme as there ever was.

    And frankly, he trots that line with agility and precision. The film never feels preachy, never feels exploitative (that comes later in the Showa series), but, well, you get the point all the same. Without spoiling too much, there is comeuppance aplenty in this movie. Not Daimaijin levels of comeuppance (the gold standard) but you will be left satisfied nonetheless.

    And Godzilla. I was trying to figure out a way to describe how Godzilla was portrayed in this film. Was probably thinking too long and too hard. Was probably drinking too long and too hard while I was thinking too long and too hard. But then it dawned on me: Godzilla was Biff from Back to the Future.



    I mean, look at him. Pretty much an asshole - almost lovable, but not quite. Clumsy, kind of a dick, to be honest, completely oblivious to the mess he makes of things. A key scene to illustrate my point is when he's derpy-doing his way through Tokyo, and gets his tail caught in Tokyo Tower (kinda shaped like Eiffel, but painted red). Completely oblivious, clumsy ass Godzilla pulls the tower down, trips, falls on his ass and, pissed off, torches and smashes everything for blocks. Never mind that it's his own clumsiness that got him into his mess, fuck that tower, it's the tower's fault, dammit, not Godzilla. He's Godzilla!

    Needless to say, by the time Mothra and Big-G finally collide, you're really rooting for the little moth worm larvae thing to pop that big lizard right in the mouth, even though it doesn't have any hands, which would, uh... make that sort of thing a little tricky. But it all pays out in the end, don't worry. This is the Showa era, there are still happy endings.

    Anyway. Gvs.M in my eyes represents the beginning of my favorite string of Godzilla films, where Honda, Tsuburaya, Tanaka and Ifukube were all simpatico and firing on all cylinders, where they were walking that line between gleeful self-aware nonsense and, dare I say, artistry. It also is exhibit one to support my theory that if Mothra and Godzilla are in a film together, it's going to be not only worth your while, but the best among its era. This holds true for the Showa, Heisei and Millenium eras. Will it remain for the current Reiwa Era? Remains to be seen.

    Next: Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster
    Last edited by bac0n; 04-02-2020 at 03:11 PM.
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  5. #30
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    Yey I love that movie, too. It is why Mothra is my favorite (besides Godzilla and Kong, of course) out of the monsters.
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  6. #31
    The Pan
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    I think "auteurs gotta aut" needs to be on MatchCut's official merchandise.

  7. #32
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting megladon8 (view post)
    I think "auteurs gotta aut" needs to be on MatchCut's official merchandise.
    Very true. Slogan!
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  8. #33
    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    Starting to collect to binge.


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  9. #34
    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Niiiice. Son of Godzilla is coming up quick in the queue. (scared)
    When I walk across the living room from my chimney to my window, it takes me 10 seconds, but for a bird it takes one second, and for oxygen zero seconds! -- Jean-Claude Van Damme

  10. #35
    Somewhere in the 90s... MadMan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Dukefrukem (view post)
    Starting to collect to binge.

    Yey! I believe I have seen all of them.
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    *The Sopranos S3 Rewatch, Blu-ray

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