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FRIDAY-JUNE 20

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Actress Shirley Yamaguchi had at least as many lives as she had names. She was born in Manchuria to Japanese parents, who called her Yoshiko. In her first films—propaganda made by China’s Japanese invaders—she used a Chinese name, Li Xianglan, to play such parts as the orphan saved by a kind Japanese sailor in 1940’s China Nights (Saturday, June 14, at 2 p.m.). Later, she starred in movies made both in Japan (as Yoshiko) and Hollywood (as Shirley). In Madame White Snake (Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m.), Yamaguchi portrays a serpent who takes the form of a woman and falls in love with a poor young man. Based on a Chinese legend, this 1956 film features lush colors and imaginative special effects. Made under the supervision of U.S. Occupation censors, Escape at Dawn (Sunday, May 18, at 2 p.m.) is a more realistic tale of doomed romance—this time between a soldier and a singer in wartime China—although its juxtaposition of cruel Japanese and kindly Chinese is not subtle. Billed as Shirley Yamaguchi, the actress—who was actually married to Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (the couple is pictured)—faces prejudice when her G.I. husband brings her home in 1952’s Japanese War Bride (Sunday, June 15, at 2 p.m.), and is a Tokyo widow who helps a newcomer catch the thugs who killed her American husband in Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo (Friday, June 20, at 7 p.m.), a 1955 mix of gangster flick, travelogue, and culture-clash comedy. The series runs to Friday, June 20 (see Showtimes for details), at the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-4880. (Mark Jenkins)