Masato Harada was born in Numazu, Japan, on July 3, 1949.
The first movie he saw was THE SEARCH (1948) by Fred Zinnemann. It was at the Numazu Central Theater and he was five years old. Although he didnﾕt memorize the directorﾕs name but he was able to pronounce the name of its star, Montgomery Clift. The episode in which Montey hands the war orphan (played by Ivan Jandl) a piece of bread became Harada's primal screen image.
Often, Harada talks about the impact of the black and white films he saw in his early Numazu days. Particularly, he was influenced by the realistic nature of the earlier works of Lumet, Pontecorvo, Frankenheimer and Kurosawa, namely 12 ANGRY MEN (1957), KAPO (1959), THE YOUNG SAVAGES (1961) and THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958). Those were the films chosen by his mother, who was an avid moviegoer in the 50s, and he was merely "hanging around."
His very first encounter with film making scene took place some time in 1954, when Akira Kurosawa was filming SEVEN SAMURAI in Gotemba, near Harada's home town. Again, it was his motherﾕs intention to watch her favorite actor, Isao Kimura to play Katsushiro on location. So she escorted her son to Gotemba for a piano lesson at her friendﾕs as an excuuse, then after twenty minutes lesson they took a walk to the filming site. All Harada remembers now is the horror of the samurai/bandits on the horseback. No Kurosawa, no Mifune.
Soon afterwards, he became a fan of chanbara jidaigeki, period films with samurai swordsplay, from Toei Company. He was able to visit the jidaigeki Capitol, Kyoto, during the summer vacations in late 50s. Her mother, along with her parents, owned a local inn, Miyako Ryokan, where film crews from Kyoto occasionally stayed.
Harada's screen idol shifted from Monty to Hashizo Okawa, a rising Toei star, then to Richard Widmark as he saw WARLOCK (1959). And he is still a big fan of Widmark's.
In 1972, while studying English in London, Harada "rediscovered" Howard Hawks. There was a mini Hawks tribute at National Film Theater and Harada was hugely entertained by ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939). One night, Peter Bogdanovich was invited to NFT and gave a lecture on his films, using the clips from his new film, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971), which was to open in London. Harada reported the experience to Kinema Jumpo magazine, the oldest film magazine in Japan, along with rave review on TLPS. Thus he made a debut as a film journalist.
In the summer of 1972, he visited Berlin Film Festival as a Kinema Jumpo correspondent and then went to cover San Sebastian Film Festival, where Hawks was invited as the president of jury. He met his mentor in Spain. Their "relationship" lasted for five years til Hawks' death in 1977. Hawks died on December 26, which was Widmark's birthday.
Harada moved to Los Angeles in 1973. Throughout the 70s, he had been active as a film reviewer/reporter to numerous magazines and newspapers in Japan.
In 1979, he directed his first feature, GOODBYE FLICKMANIA, a Hawksian buddy movie, in the tradition of A GIRL IN EVERY PORT (1928). It was also a semi-autobiography based upon his relationship with a 17 years old hooker and a radical film buff. Harada used his parents' café as the main location of the drama, set in 1968.
He is married to a journalist, Mizuho Fukuda in
1976. Eldest daughter Maho lives in Europe. His son, Eugene, became an actor
in New York and played Chris Gotanda in JUBAKU/SPELLBOUND
(1999), Seiji Doi in INUGAMI (2001) and Officer Ushiroda in THE CHOICE
(2002). He is growing
up into an indispensable member of the Harada Stock Company.
The Harada family
keeps the houses in Tokyo and Glendale, California.