Saturday, April 09, 2016

You Can Succeed, Too (Eizô Sugawa , 1964)

It's going to be difficult to top the opening night film at Japan Sings! The Japanese Musical Film at Japan Society. You Can Succeed, Too (Kimi mo shusse ga dekiru) is an absolute stunner, calling to mind Yasuzo Masumura's Giants and Toys, Frank Tashlin's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, and Frank Loesser's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and easily the equal of any of them. Concerning a tourist agancy's attempts to become more efficient like (their perception of) America, the film is most memorable for how it reprises several of its big musical numbers in more ironic contexts at later points in the narrative, especially the showstopping "In America" number available in a horrible Youtube clip below without subtitles (indeed, the print last night was shown with live subtitles). 

I cornered the curator, Michael Raine, Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Western University, Canada, after the film and he told me that the final number which takes place on a construction site was actually an American military base. But the filmmakers could get only a few shots since they were kicked off the site! So the scene quickly switches to hilariously fake studio sets. Raine suggests that these material conditions reflect the film's main theme - the need to but ultimate impossibility of emulating America. And it definitely serves as the film's hysterical moment, as per Geoffrey Nowell-Smith's "Minnelli and Melodrama," when realist representation breaks down to signal the film's inability to contain its own contradictions. Raine also told me he showed it to Miriam Hansen who loved it! You will too!!

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