Federico Cavedo has found a feature film that not only features a CJ-3B in a major role, but where in fact the whole plot revolves around the Jeep. The movie is called I Hate But Love (original Japanese title Nikui an-chikushô) and was directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara in 1962.
In an article called The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara, Jamie S. Rich describes the plot: "Daisaku Kita (played by Japanese matinee idol Yujiro Ishihara) is a popular media personality who hosts a TV show that finds the true stories behind the most intriguing classified ads of the day. His manager/girlfriend, Noriko (Ruriko Asaoka) has been dating him for exactly two years... but their passion is waning, largely because they have been denying it."
"I Hate But Love takes a strange turn, however, when the frustrated Kita impulsively agrees to go on a road trip to fulfill the wish of one of his interview subjects... a woman who has saved up to buy a country doctor a Jeep so he can help more sick people. All she needs is someone to volunteer to drive the vehicle to the mountain village he calls home."
"Eager to prove that love is real and affirm his own humanity in the process, Daisaku jumps behind the wheel. Seeing it as career suicide, his girlfriend Noriko chases after him (in a 1955 Jaguar XK140, 35K JPEG). What follows is a cross-country journey on which the philosophical implications are only outweighed by the media circus that erupts around it."
Daisaku nurses the old Mitsubishi CJ3B-J3 along, and Noriko tries to persuade him to come back to Tokyo, while camera crews follow by helicopter, and crowds gather to watch them pass. During the drive, we get to see some nice scenery, and lots of classic cars including a '53 Cadillac and a '51 Suburban (bottom).
As Daisaku gets close to the village in the mountains, he takes pity on Norico in the Jaguar, and hooks up a tow rope to help her up the rough trail, as night falls.
The towing sequence, with lots of spinning wheels, is one of the Jeep highlights of the film. (It might also be one of the few demonstrations of a Jaguar offroad, prior to the carmaker's 2013 announcement that it was getting into the SUV field.)
As the Jeep strains at the tow rope, you can see the military-style gas tank opening, which was used on Mitsubishi's civilian CJ3B-J3.
Not surprisingly, the rope starts to fail.
The rope breaks, and Daisaku looks back to see the Jag rolling backwards towards a cliff.
He manages to pull Noriko out of the red leather cockpit as the car teeters on the edge of the cliff.
Funny thing -- when the XK140 convertible goes over the edge, it suddenly looks more like a '51 Chevy Bel Air.
The two travel the rest of the way together in the Jeep.
Noriko sees Daisaku in a different light when they finally reach his destination, and he looks for the dedicated young doctor who needs the Jeep.
The TV crew arrives in a chopper, with the woman who inspired the whole road trip. They want to get happy faces on camera in front of the crowd (60K JPEG), but Noriko and Daisaku just want to get away, and the film ends with them kissing passionately on a mountaintop.
In his blog A Journey Through the Eclipse Series, David Blakeslee writes, "I Hate But Love feels like a summertime release, because of its bright color palette, its breezy road movie narrative structure and the numerous touches of comedic whimsy (showing more than a little skin along the way) that surely made this movie very appealing to teens and young adults back in the day.
"The comedic whimsy and cutesy moments occur in this film, but Kurahara plunges both of his highly photogenic stars into some unexpectedly intense and gut-wrenching moments, erupting so quickly that even today's savvy viewers won't see them coming.
"Yujiro Ishihara was indisputably the biggest Japanese screen idol of that time... an overwhelming presence, especially among the young, to whom he epitomized their restless energy, their wary questioning of what the previous war-torn generation had bequeathed to them and a willingness to break more radically with Japan's cultural rigidity than their elders ever thought permissible."
The selection of a Jeep as the central symbol of this story was probably inspired by that same rebellious attitude of young people in Japan in the early 1960s. Although this particular CJ3B-J3 was built in Japan, Jeeps were undoubtedly seen as representative of America, and the opposite of everything their Japanese elders had stood for.
Of course the open Jeep was also the ideal vehicle for director Koreyoshi Kurahara to put Yujiro Ishihara in, so he could be photographed from every angle by Kurahara's constantly moving camera. The film is a tour de force for both of them, as well as Ruriko Asaoka in her Jaguar convertible. (In fact her character was so popular in Japan at the time, that there were a couple of sequels to the film, focussing on Noriko.) I'm happy ro report that I Hate But Love is now available on a DVD box set with several of Kurahara's other films, from the Criterion Collection.
You can also see the last 15 minutes of the film on YouTube.
Thanks to Federico Cavedo and to the IMCDB for frame enlargements. -- Derek Redmond
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