Issue 21, 4th quarter 1998. Used by permission.
Today marks the 87th birthday of renowned Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. He was born Seitaro Suzuki on May 24, 1923, and is also an actor and screenwriter. His films include Fighting Elegy, Gate of Flesh, Kanto Wanderer, Underworld Beauty, Tokyo Drifter, and Branded to Kill, all of which are available on DVD from Home Vision Entertainment or The Criterion Collection.
By my estimate, he has more DVDs distributed by Criterion than any other Japanese director save Akura Kurosawa, which is high praise indeed.
Most of his films were B-movies that he made for Nikkatsu between 1956 and 1967. His desire to inject his personal style into these routine genre films resulted in his being fired after making Branded to Kill (1967) because his films were deemed "incomprehensible." He successfully sued the studio for wrongful dismissal, but was blacklisted for ten years.
In later years he won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for Zigeunerweisen (1980), part of his Taisho Trilogy. Zigeunerweisen is available from Kino Video. These days he is most famous in Japan for his roles as an actor in Japaneses films and TV.
So a most happy birthday wish to you, Seijun Suzuki, actor, screenwriter, master director, and a true surviver.