Yasujiro Ozu

Sog.: James Maki [Yasujiro Ozu]. Scen.: Tadao Ikeda. F.: Hideo Shigehara. M.: Kazuo Ishikawa, Minoru Kuribayashi. Int.: Kinuyo Tanaka (Tokiko), Joji Oka (Jyoji), Sumiko Mizukubo (Kazuko), Hideo Mitsui (Hiroshi), Yumeko Aizome (Misako), Yoshio Takayama (Senko), Chishu Ryu (poliziotto). Prod.: Shochiku. DCP. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

It’s fascinating to see how Ozu, at the outset of his career, was far from the austere, fixed camera, long-unbroken take director we’re familiar with from his post-war output… His camera tracks, pans and glides; cutting is often fast and rhythmic, with frequent use of shot/countershot; and angles stray far from the tatami mat height beloved of the older director. Hijosen no onna opens on a vertiginous high angle of people on their way to an office job, and soon afterwards the camera tracks rapidly along a row of busily clacking typewriters. Later we get a scene framed in the wing mirror of a speeding limousine…
This “most Japanese of all” directors, as Donald Richie termed him, here openly parades his American influences… Even so, to call these movies ‘gangster films’ arouses slightly misleading expectations. There are none of the highspeed car chases, fast repartee or Tommy gun shootouts of Little Caesar, Public Enemy or Scarface… Ozu certainly knew the contemporary Hollywood crime cycle, but his model here seems to be the slightly earlier films of Josef von Sternberg (The Docks of New York, Underworld) with their moody, melancholy atmosphere…
Ozu’s dalliance with gangster movies didn’t last long; Hijosen no onna   is his last excursion into the genre, replaying story elements from Hogaraka ni ayume (Walk Cheerfully) but in a more sombre mood that brings it closer to his American models. Again, a smalltime gang-leader finds himself attracted to a simple, virtuous girl, but this time it’s her rival, the ‘bad girl’ of the title (the great Tanaka Kinuyo in an early lead role), who acts as his eventual salvation. As her boyfriend, Oka Joji has something of the soulful seriousness of the young Henry Fonda. Ozu himself scripted, under his Anglo-Japanese pen name of James Maki.

Philip Kemp, The Way of the Gun, “Sight & Sound”, n. 4, April 2013

Copy From

Restored in 4K in 2022 by Shochiku Media Worx Inc. at Imagica Entertainment Media Services, Inc. laboratory, technically supervised by National Film Archive
of Japan. Special thanks to The Japan Foundation