T. int .: Wife! Be Like a Rose!. Sog.: Minoru Nakano. Scen.: Mikio Naruse. F.: Hiroshi Suzuki. M.: Koichi Iwashita. Scgf.: Kazuo Kubo. Mus.: Noboru Ito. Int.: Sachiko Chiba (Kimiko Yamamoto), Sadao Maruyama (Shunsaku Yamamoto), Yuriko Hanabusa (Oyuki), Tomoko Ito (Etsuko Yamamoto), Setsuko Horikoshi (Shizuko, sorella di Oyuki), Kamatari Fujiwara (Shingo, fratello di Etsuko), Chikako Hosokawa (la moglie di Shingo), Heihachiro Okawa (Seiji, fidanzato di Kimiko), Kaoru Ito (Ken’ichi, figlio di Oyuki). Prod.: P.C.L. 35mm. D .: 74′. Bn.
Hailed by Japanese critics, who voted it to the top spot in the annual “Kinema Junpo” critics’ poll, this is the most famous of Naruse’s prewar films. It was also the earliest to find exposure in the West, having been screened in New York as early as 1937, when it received mixed reviews. Four decades later, however, it was hailed by Noël Burch as “Naruse’s single masterpiece”; it is certainly among the finest and most complex of the director’s films. Naruse migrated to P.C.L. from Shochiku, where he had been denied the opportunity to make sound films by hostile studio boss, Shiro Kido, who considered his style too close to that of Ozu. Wife! Be Like a Rose! decisively demonstrates his stylistic and tonal originality, although his subject is a familiar one for the period: the clash between tradition and modernity, and between the countryside and the city. These themes are movingly mediated through the interpersonal drama: an intricate triangular romance and through the relationship of a young woman to all three participants, her mother, father and her father’s new lover.