Revenge of the Pearl Queen
aka 女真珠王の復讐 aka Onna Shinju-o no Fukushu
Screenplay by Isao Matsumoto and Jun Sagara
Story by Yoshihisa Shimizu
Directed by Toshio Shimura
Revenge of the Pearl Queen is one of the first of the Japanese Topless Pearl Diver films – called ama (woman diver) films by those in the know. These films caused a sensation upon release due to the fact the starlets would whip off their clothes, giving audiences brief glimpses of nudity that was almost impossible to casually come across in 1956. The ama films became the equivalent of the US’s nudie cutie flicks that were filmed on nudist colonies. The ama films tried to compensate for their lack of plot possibilities by combining with other film genres, thus there were pearl diving dramas, action films, and even horror flicks! The ama films began to get phased out when it became more acceptable to have more sexual films in general, and are now just quaint historical artifacts (aside from some throwback films over the years that used the ama theme!)
Revenge of the Pearl Queen stars Michiko Maeda, who is often wearing clothes that get ripped off by the weather or by random jerks. Part of the suspense scenes are the wondering if she will fall out of her low-slung clothing, which she does just enough to keep audiences paying attention and paying to come back to the next several show times.
The island segments are loosely based on the true story of 19 Japanese men on the island of Anatahan after World War II, who did not believe the war was over. There was one woman on the island, and over time several of the men mysteriously disappeared or were found violently murdered as the woman switched her affections around. She escaped on an American ship in 1950, and finally the men left the island in 1951 after being sent a message from the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture. More information is available here.
Screening as part of a double feature (with Yellow Line) at the Shintoho retrospective, I saw Revenge of the Pearl Queen at the YBCA with duriandave from SoftFilm, as Todd from FourDK had to take off. And that was the best decision Todd made in years! Let’s just say the Pearl Queen’s greatest revenge was how sleepy she made us!