- Itami, Juzo
orig. Yoshihiro Ikeuchidied Dec. 20, 1997, TokyoJapanese film director and screenwriter.He had a successful 20-year career as an actor in films such as 55 Days at Peking (1963) before venturing into directing. His directorial debut, The Funeral (1984), was acclaimed for its satire of social conventions, a novelty in Japanese cinema. He became an international success with his artful and entertaining Tampopo (1986) and A Taxing Woman (1987). His satire on Japan's crime syndicate, The Gangster's Moll (1992), provoked a near-deadly attack on him by gangsters.
* * *▪ 1998Japanese film director (b. May 15, 1933, Kyoto, Japan—d. Dec. 20, 1997, Tokyo, Japan), created satiric comedies that challenged authority and satirized social conventions and that gained him renown as one of Japan's greatest film directors. After a successful 20-year career as an actor, Itami directed (1984) his first film, Ososhiki (The Funeral), a black comedy about a family's squabbles at a funeral; among the film's targets were the Buddhist monks who exploited the bereaved for financial gain. Itami's refusal to hold anything sacred was a novelty in Japanese cinema, and the film won great critical and popular acclaim. Next came Tampopo (1986), his best-known film abroad, about the culinary and financial struggles of a noodle-shop proprietor. His other credits include Masura no onna (1987; A Taxing Woman) and Minbo no onna (1992; The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion). In response to the latter film's harsh portrayal of the yakuza, Japan's powerful crime syndicate, five gangsters armed with knives attacked Itami in the street shortly after its release. He was nearly killed and was badly scarred on his face and neck. Itami's unique films were noted for their contemporary settings and unsentimental comic realism. Most of his films starred his wife, the actress Nobuko Miyamoto. Itami's death was by suicide; he jumped from the roof of the eight-story building in which his office was located. His suicide was apparently in anticipation of the publication of a tabloid magazine's story alleging an extramarital affair between himself and a young woman. Itami denied the affair to the magazine's reporters and again in his suicide note.
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