The Crimson Kimono

Director: Samuel Fuller
Screenwriters: Samuel Fuller

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


Los Angeles detectives Charlie Bancroft and Joe Kojaku investigate the murder of a stripper in Little Tokyo, where the film was shot in its entirety. Joe, a Nisei thinks only of making Sergeant and thinks that being a Nisei is holding him back from promotion. From the film’s start he rejects his culture. While working on the murder case, he and Charlie fall in love with the same girl, Chris. First, he thinks she will reject him because he is a Nisei, but Fuller stresses that it is Joe’s Asiatic sensibility and cultural heritage that Chris finds attractive. Joe . . .rejects his culture and tries to make himself as American as possible. But, as Fuller neatly shows, he is a man of two cultures . . .

At the most basic level, Fuller’s films revolve around the themes of war and marriage, reciprocity of hate and reciprocity of love. Fuller’s world is essentially dualistic: both war and marriage depend on a pair of partners, the self and the other. Fuller explores his themes by breaking down the polarity of the two sides in war and by superimposing hate and love on to the same pair. Thus, the two basic situations for Fuller are those of the double agent and of the racially mixed marriage. In the first situation the protagonist is not clearly defined as being on one side or the other: he must live a complex dialectic of allegiance and treachery. In the second situation, relations of racial hatred and personal love are antagonistically combined within the some pair. This kind of thematic structure enables Fuller to explore the nature of American identity, vis-a-vis both the external enemy—Communism—and the internal divisions and hatreds which divide the country—especially race hatred.

— Phil Hardy

Screening Details

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