(director: Koreyoshi Kurahara; screenwriter: Nobuo Yamada; cinematographer: Yoshio Mamiya; editor: Akira Suzuki; music: Toshiro Mayuzumi; cast: Tamio Kawaji (Akira), Yuko Chiyo (Yuki),  Hiroyuki Nagato (Kashi), Noriko Matsumoto (Fumiko), Eiji Go (Masaru), Chico Roland (Gill); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Takeshi Yamamoto; Criterion: Eclipse Series; 1960-B/W-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)

“Jazz friendly, inexplicable, arty and weird.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is a bizarre film that caters to the latest trend in juvenile delinquent films, known in Japan as the “Sun Tribe” films, that arrived during the post-war period when the occupying American army left the country and its youth was restless and frustrated. Director Koreyoshi Kurahara (“Thirst for Love “/”I Hate But Love”) keeps it jazz friendly, inexplicable, arty and weird. Written by Nobuo Yamada, with no attempt to make any of the juvenile delinquents depicted even remotely likable, it serves as a fascinating but really weird b/w shot movie about the youth rebellion.

The film had three titles, opening in Japan as Season of Heat, where it was a smashing hit. In 1963 it was re-titled for the American market as The Weird Lovemakers and was sold as a sexploitation film, but bombed critically and at the box office. It finally settled for the current title, which seems the most appropriate one.

It follows the aimless, hyperactive and violent life of the teenager Akira (Tamio Kawaji ), a big fan of black jazz. Akira identifies with the blacks because they created jazz, which he says the whites stole and the Japanese copied. In his eyes, the Japanese are the worst because they just copied.

In a Tokyo jazz bar, Akiri partners with the local prostitute, Yuki (Yuko Chiyo), to pickpocket a guy at the bar flirting with her. But the journalist Kashi (Hiroyuki Nagato) tips off the police and he gets pinched. After serving a short stint in reform school, he returns home to live with Yuki and brings along a career-criminal prison mate Masaru ( Eiji Go). Masaru has the hots for Yuki and they become a couple. After Akira steals a car, he goes joyriding to the beach with Masaru and Yuki. When he spots the timid journalist on the beach, he gets his revenge by kidnapping his middle-class artist girlfriend Fumiko (Noriko Matsumoto) and brutally raping her.

Fumiko never reports the rape, but tracks down the rapist in the same jazz bar and tells him she’s pregnant from the rape. This only makes him sneer. Wanting Yuki to feel the same shame she does, she convinces her obedient boyfriend to knock up Yuki and she pays the whore for the trick.

The filmmaker has little regard for Fumiko as an artist, considering her to be pretentious and just as shallow as Akiri, who gets his soul by living off the jazz played by the blacks. Jazz is considered as the only good thing Japan got from the American occupation.

The ending is totally off-the-wall. At an abortion clinic the maniacal Akira is cruelly laughing hysterically at the situation of the two girls, Yuki and Fumiko,  going for abortions from the men they’re not involved with. I thought it was funny but not apparently as funny as Akira thought it was.

The only decent character in the film was a black American named Gill (Chico Roland ), a frequent patron of the jazz bar and a soldier who stayed in Japan after his tour of army duty. He seems to be doing fine, as he drives a fancy new car. He’s into jazz and has befriended Akira, and seems to be the only one who can get the troubled youngster to chill out.

The pic left my head spinning, as it was hard to stomach its leading character. Therefore I’m not sure if I enjoyed it or not, but I did find it most interesting.


REVIEWED ON 6/22/2020  GRADE:  B