Yasuzo Masumura's "Giants and Toys" (1958, color) is a funny and satirical look at go-go, post WWII Japan. This unblinking look at corporate values and pop culture is colorful, kooky, and sardonically dark.
Three caramel companies slug it out in the 1950's cut-throat world of candy selling. Who will win the loyalty of the fickle Japanese candy buyer? Will the industrial spies succeed in their deception—or be betrayed in a double cross? Will the innocent girl-spokesperson rise from obscurity intact or lose her soul?
If you like films like "How To Succeed In Business (Without Really Trying)," "A Face in the Crowd," and "Sweet Smell of Success," Masumura's "Giants and Toys" will be right up your alley, even if this version is told from the backstreets in Tokyo.
This movie was double catnip for me, as a designer of cereal toy premiums and as a fan Japanese culture. I loved all the mid-Showa era details of robots and ray guns, period cars and costumes, and slice-of-life settings around Tokyo.
Then, with your appetite whetted for more corporate espionage and Japanophile film noir, go watch Masumura's other dark and deadly looks at the car industry ("The Black Test Car" 1962), the legal profession ("The Black Report" 1963), and real estate swindles ("Black Super Express" 1964).