This week, Criterion is devoting its free Hulu festival to the works of Masaki Kobayashi, and I have picked out two of the more interesting-sounding titles to watch (both of which will be included in the forthcoming Masaki Kobayashi Against the System Eclipse set). Made in 1956, I Will Buy You is a tense drama about the cutthroat business of baseball scouting and how it corrupts just about everyone involved in it. At its center is a highly touted college player (Minoru Ooki) who's sought after by several teams and could turn out to be a career-making deal for Keiji Sata, the eager-beaver scout for the Toyo Flowers.
At first, Sata thinks his biggest obstacle is Ooki's eccentric teacher (Yunosuke Ito), who's plagued by painful gallstones and has a gambling problem to boot, but he meets even more resistance from Ooki's girlfriend (Keiko Kishi), who repeatedly tells him to buzz off and even tries to get Ooki to quit at one point. There's little chance of that happening, though, what with the ludicrous amounts of money being waved under his nose. And the members of his (mostly dirt-poor) family have a few things to say about it as well since the competing teams have no qualms about bribing them, either. Considering how much of the film takes place in dark, ill-lit rooms, it's a wonder anybody can tell who's pulling a fast one on whom.