Giants and Toys (1958) - Subtitle

As much a film of its moment as Sweet Smell of Success and just as lasting in its pertinence, this cruel satire is Masumura’s masterpiece – although an excellent script (from a Ken Kaiko novel) and terrific cast deserve their share of the credit. Three confectionery companies are locked in cut-throat rivalry for a share of a market increasingly dominated by imported US candy. Goda (Takamatsu), a thrusting young exec with World Caramel, spots a young woman out shopping and decides to turn her into a celebrity who can star in his plan for a space age ad campaign. Kyoko Shima (Nozoe), averagely pretty and with exceptionally bad teeth, takes to the Pygmalion treatment like a duck to water and soon leaves behind her job with a failing taxi firm and her dysfunctional family. Goda’s assistant Nishi (Kawaguchi), who dates a woman exec from a rival firm and proves a useless industrial spy, watches as both the girl and his boss succumb to mega-greed; the film’s ending turns on whether or not Nishi will have the balls to go his own moral way or submit to the diktats of Japan Inc. nicely paced, wittily conceived and imaginatively designed, this is the best of all proto-new wave movies.Director Masumura here explores the non-ceasing battle between pursuit of profits and business ethics in Japan’s increasingly cut-throat corporate world. —nishanth gunupudi

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