Joe Shishido

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Joe Shishido
Joe Shishido 2005.jpg
Shishido at the 2005 Udine Far East Film Festival
Born Jō Shishido
(1933-12-06) December 6, 1933 (age 81)
Kita, Osaka, Japan
Height 1.74 m (5' 8½")

Joe Shishido (宍戸 錠 Shishido Jō?, born December 6, 1933) is a Japanese actor most recognizable for his intense, eccentric yakuza film roles and his artificially enlarged cheekbones. He has appeared in some 300 films but is best known in the West for his performance in the cult film Branded to Kill (1967). In Japan, he is also known by the nickname Joe the Ace (エースのジョー Ēsu no Jō?) for his popular role in the Western Fast-Draw Guy (1961).

Early life[edit]

Joe Shishido was born in the Kita Ward of Osaka, Japan. He had two older brothers, one younger sister and a younger brother who also became an actor under the name Eiji Go. Shishido attended schools in Tokyo and Miyagi. In 1952, he graduated from high school and enrolled in the theatre course at Nihon University. Two years later, he auditioned for the Nikkatsu Company's New Face contest. He was one of 21 selected from 8,000 applicants. Shishido dropped out of school and began working for Nikkatsu, appearing in small film roles.[1]

Nikkatsu[edit]

In 1954, Joe Shishido signed on as a contract player at Nikkatsu. Studio bosses encouraged Shishido to change his name, as popular tales of the samurai Miyamoto Musashi contained a villain named Shishido and they were modeling him into a romantic lead, but he refused. His first major role was in Policeman's Diary (1955, Keisatsu Nikki), in which he played a young patrolman who challenges a police chief in a kendo (bamboo sword fighting) match.[1]

Displeased with his middling success in melodramas and "blandly handsome features",[1][2] Shishido underwent cheek augmentation surgery in 1957, increasing their size. Some have described his new look as "ruggedly handsome"[1] and others equated it as being distinctly chipmunk-like.[3][4] Afterwards, he began getting bigger parts predominantly as villains in action movies. Two of his largest roles in the late 1950s and early 1960s were opposite Akira Kobayashi in the Wataridori ("Birds of Passage") series and Keiichiro Akagi in the Kenjū Buraichō ("Records of Pistol Criminality") series. When Akagi died in a go-karting accident, Nikkatsu needed a new action star, and Shishido was selected. His first starring role was in the comic buddy film Dirty Work (ろくでなし稼業 Rokudenashi Kagyō?, 1961) with Hideaki Nitani. The film was a success and spawned two immediate sequels, Bodyguard Work (用心棒稼業 Yōjimbō Kagyō?, 1961) and Helper Work (助っ人稼業 Suketto Kagyō?, 1961). He gained national popularity and the lifelong nickname "Joe the Ace" ("Eisu no Jō") for his eponymous role in the Eastern Western Fast-Draw Guy (1961), in which he played the "third-fastest draw in the world—0.65 seconds."[1][5]

Though he worked predominantly in comic action roles he also gained a "tough-guy loner image" in such films as Seijun Suzuki's Youth of the Beast (1963) in which he played an ex-cop who infiltrates two rival yakuza gangs.[1] Shishido is best known in the West for the films he made with Suzuki including Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! (1963) and Gate of Flesh (1964).[2] Internationally, his best known film is Suzuki's Branded to Kill (1967), in which he starred as the number three hitman in Japan, although it received only moderate success on its original release. He later recalled seeing the film with friends and finding the theatre near deserted.[1]

Nikkatsu action movies began to lose favour through the late 1960s and production was scaled back resulting in fewer jobs for Shishido. He began taking roles with other companies and in television, which were primarily of a comic nature. He also starred in Nikkatsu "new action" films such as the all-star vehicle Yakuza Bird of Passage:Bad Guys' Work (1969), with Akira Kobayashi and Tetsuya Watari, and Bloody Battle (1971). In 1971, Shishido ended his contract and left the failing company,[1] which had transitioned into softcore roman porno ("romantic pornography") films in order to stay profitable.[2]

Free agent[edit]

Joe Shishido continued to work in television and appeared in films for other studios such as the fifth installment of Toei's highly popular post-war yakuza series, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Final Episode (1974). By this time yakuza films had begun to lose favour with the public and Shishido ceased appearing in those types of roles. Over the next 20 years, he focused predominately on television with occasional film appearances including Exchange Students (1982), Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast (1986) and A Mature Woman (1994). His roles in Kaizo Hayashi's Mike Hama: Private Eye trilogy marked a reemergence of his tough-guy persona. The trilogy included The Most Terrible Time in My Life (1994), The Stairway to the Distant Past (1995) and The Trap (1996).[1]

On 4 February 2013, his house was destroyed in a fire. He was not at home at the time and no-one was injured.[6]

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schilling, Mark (September 2003). The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 128–130. ISBN 1-880656-76-0. 
  2. ^ a b c Sharp, Jasper; Stefan Nutz (August 2005). "Interview: Jo Shishido and Toshio Masuda". Midnight Eye. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  3. ^ Atkinson, Michael (February 2005). "Fighting Elegy; Youth of the Beast". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  4. ^ Erickson, Glenn (July 2002). "Branded to Kill". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  5. ^ 早射ち野郎 (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  6. ^ "宍戸錠さん宅が全焼 外出中でけが人なし". mns産経ニュース. 2013-02-04. 

External links[edit]