AW: Lost Japanese Films

Roland Domenig roland.domenig at
Thu Dec 11 10:19:29 EST 2008

Hi Jasper,

actually there were two Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu films made: Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu Henka no maki (released March 18, 1939) and Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu Ogon no maki (released April 5, 1938). Both were directed by Kumagai Soya at Zensho Kinema's Ayameike Studio in Nara. The studio was established by Ichikawa Utaemon, one of the jidaigeki stars of the prewar era, who in 1927 left Makino Production and founded his own production company Ichikawa Utaemon Production aka Uta Puro. He rented a parcel of land of the Awameike Amusement Park and build a film studio there. Uta Puro continued to make films until 1936 when Utaemon joint Shochiku. Uta Puro was absorbed by Shochiku; their last film was Akutaro shishi by Nakagawa Nobuo who had made his directorial debut with Uta Puro in 1934. A few month after the closing of the studio Utaemon's elder brother, Yamaguchi Tenryu, founded the production company Zensho Kinema and reopened the Ayameike Studio. Zensho Kinema lasted until 1941. In 1940 it had come under the control of Shochiku which eventually absorbed Zensho Kinema. In January 1941 the Ayameike Studio closed its doors and fell into oblivion. The last of the about 170 films produced by Zensho Kinema (and almost all lost) was directed by Kumagai Soya, the director of the King Kong films. 
As Alex Jacoby already mentioned, Saito Torajiro made a Japanese King Kong version (Wasei Kingu Kongu) for the Shochiku Kamata Studios as early as 1933, only a few months after the release of the original King Kong film. 

Roland Domenig
Vienna University

Von: owner-KineJapan at [owner-KineJapan at] im Auftrag von Jasper Sharp [jasper_sharp at]
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 10. Dezember 2008 18:29
An: kinejapan
Betreff: RE: Lost Japanese Films

Talking of lost films, something that keeps coming up in conversations recently has been the following title:

King Kong Appears in Edo (Edo ni arawareta Kingu Kongu, 江戸に現れたキングコング, Kumaga Sôya, 1938)

It's listed in the jmdb simply as キングコング

Can anyone confirm it ever existed? It seems to good to be true.
There's some information on the web, namely

It appears it only screened for one week only at most then disappeared, but I've never even heard of its production company Zenshou Kinema (Zenkatsu Kinema?) before - it makes me realise just how much weird stuff in the prewar period there was. So sad its all vanished!


Midnight Eye

Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 13:39:06 +0000
From: macyroger at
To: KineJapan at
Subject: Re: Lost Japanese Films

Dear Christiane Gruen,
You ask -
"Therefore we ask if anybody knows of any Japanese films, which are believed lost, that they please post to the list or get in touch with me at the email address listed below."
Alas, for Japan, the question is overwhelming, if not mocking, since most Japanese films are lost.  Of the many thousands of films made before 1940 (such as to be found on the JMDb website) all but a few hundred, I believe, are lost.  And plenty after this date are also lost - for example, Jasper Sharp points out, in his new book that most pink films have not been preserved.
So, for practical reasons, our focus is on what films are preserved.  We have had recent threads on this list as to the availability of information on which films are preserved - see 'Film archive catalogues' and 'Japanese governmental agencies/film culture promotional policies'.  Due to the lack of easy availability of preservation information, Professor High's pointer to his book is particularly useful.

The discussion on your website as to what might constitute a 'lost film' is valuable.  But whilst we have your attention, may I ask one question and make one suggestion, please?

Question: (Assuming the Deutsche Kinemathek is the institution in Germany that holds information on films preserved in Germany,)  Is it one of those institutions that puts on line the listing of those films it has preserved?  If so, what is the link, please.  If not, a listing of any East Asian films up to 1945 that are held would interest scholars, particularly as there are a few films that may have reached Berlin via Moscow.

Suggestion: There is another category of found films that are hidden, in so far as there is no budget to produce projection copies.  Publicity for these might produce the positive result of procuring sponsorship for their projection and distribution.  For example, the only copy of a 1923 film by Conrad Wiene, DIE MACHT DER FINSTERNIS, (with Russian actors and, presumably, a Russian script) exists at Waseda University, Tokyo with English titles - see the report by Dr. Uli Jung in Filmblatt, Summer, 2003.  Perhaps your institution could find the budget to combine the revival of this hidden German film with that of a Japanese film in a similar state?

Roger Macy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Christiane Gruen" <Christiane.Gruen at<mailto:Christiane.Gruen at>>
To: <kinejapan at<mailto:kinejapan at>>
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 3:52 PM

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