Susumu Hani’s first feature was this gritty pseudo docudrama of juvenile delinquency based upon a collection of papers, ‘Wings That Couldn’t Fly’, written by the inmates of a boy’s prison. The film follows a young man who drifts into petty crime, is arrested, imprisoned, reformed and released. True stories of other inmates are interwoven into his experience to create a startling document of crime and punishment.
Bad Boys is often cited as the first film of the Japanese New Wave. Like the films of the French New Wave, Bad Boys dealt with a previously taboo subject — delinquency in a socially structured society. Also like the French Auteurs, Hani financed his first film with private funds. His limited resources and his status as an Independent outsider from the Japanese studio machines allowed him to experiment both with established narrative techniques (using reformed prisoners to read or re-enact their experiences) and production techniques (much of the film was shot on grainy 8mm and 16mm).
Bad Boys is a unique landmark in the Japanese cinema. It heralds the start of a new type of Japanese film and forces us to confront a new type of director. —New York Film Annex
Susumu Hani was born in Tokyo in 1928, the son of a famous liberal family. After schooling, he worked for a while as a journalist at Kyoto Press and entered filmmaking as a documentarist in 1950 when he joined Iwanami Productions. Most of his later dramatic features reflect his early documentary training, relying on authentic locations, amateur actors, hand-held camera techniques, and an emphasis upon contemporary social issues.
His film career comprises three areas: documentary films; narratives relating to social problems, especially among the young; and dramas focusing on the emerging woman. Of the 18 documentaries made between 1952 and 1960, the best known are Children in the Classroom and Children Who Draw Pictures. The latter won the 1957 Robert Flaherty Award.
Hani’s first dramatic feature, Bad Boys, further develops many of his previous concerns. The film, a loose series of situations about reform school, was enacted by former inmates who improvised dialogue. For… read more