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Ryo Ikebe, 1918 - 2010

"Actor Ryo Ikebe died of sepsis at a Tokyo hospital on October 8," reports Tokyograph News. "He was 92."

For Variety, Mark Schilling notes that Ikebe originally intended to become a director for the Toho studio. "His soft-featured, city-bred good looks drew the attention of Toho helmer Yasujiro Shimazu, who cast Ikebe in the 1941 pic Fighting Fish (Togyo)." Following World War II, "Ikebe moved from young leading man roles to a wider range of parts, such as the elite bureaucrat who falls into self-destructive dissipation in Minoru Shibuya's Modern Man (Gendaijin, 1952) and the cheating businessman in a troubled marriage in Yasujiro Ozu's Early Spring (Soshun, 1956)." He then rode the Japanese New Wave, "starring as an ex-con who takes up with a fast-living younger women in Masahiro Shinoda's seminal gangster pic Pale Flower (Kawaita Hana, 1964)," which, of course, has just screened in the Shinoda Masterworks series at this year's New York Film Festival. "Ikebe also appeared in Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Paul Schrader's 1985 biopic about writer/actor Yukio Mishima, though abroad he is perhaps better known for his turns in Toho's signature sci-fi pics."

Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker: "G-fans will remember Ikebe from his starring roles in Battle in Outer Space (1959), Gorath (1962), and The War in Space (1977).... In recent years, Ikebe turned his attention to writing, becoming an award-winning essayist and book author."

Update, 10/13: Chris MaGee at Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow: "Ikebe's biggest screen success at home in Japan was his role as an honorable yakuza gangster in Toei's Brutal Tales of Chivalry series opposite screen legend Ken Takakura. The series ran for nine films and helped define the ninkyo-eiga or 'chivalry film' genre of yakuza dramas. It was with a certain amount of irony that Ikebe was one actor who came forth in 1965 to blow the whistle on the ties between the Japanese film industry and the yakuza. At that time he declared that the major Japanese studios who sever all ties with organized crime, but despite his noble intentions the link was never truly severed."

Images: Farewell Rabaul, Pale Flower, PR shot. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow The Daily Notebook on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.


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