Sog.: Tsuneo Tomita. Scen.: Yuzo Kawashima. F.: Toru Nishikawa. Scgf.: Seiichiro Sakai. Mus.: Chuji Kinoshita. Int.: Shuji Sano (Yusaku Araki), Etsuko Miyama (Shizuko, sua sorella), Keiko Tsushima (Mayumi Sada), Rieko Sumi (Kikue), Teiji Takahashi (Shuji, suo fratello), Shin Tokudaiji (Toshio Niwa), Michiko Ikuno (Tami, sua moglie). Prod.: Shochiku. 35mm. D.: 95’. Bn.
This entertaining film is one of the most celebrated of Kawashima’s period at Shochiku. It chronicles the experiences of a neighbourhood doctor, whose taste for tonkatsu (a popular Japanese dish, similar to a pork schnitzel) earns him the nickname ‘the pork cutlet prince’ (‘Tonkatsu Taisho’, the film’s Japanese title) from the affectionate residents of the tenement in which he lives. When a local hospital, run by a female doctor, plans to expand, the future of the tenement is called into question. The nagayamono (a generic term referring to the film’s tenement setting) was a staple of the prewar jidai-geki (period film), exemplified by such classics as Sadao Yamanaka’s Humanity and Paper Balloons (Ninjo kamifusen, 1937). As the “Kinema Junpo” reviewer, who was somewhat critical of the film as a whole, noted, Kawashima’s film is basically a jidai-geki nagayamono transported to a gendai-geki (contemporary) setting. The tenement location allows Kawashima to explore the fragile social and economic situation of the early postwar years. Kawashima himself commented that “From the very beginning, this one was a bit different” and admitted that the story had relatively little to do with tonkatsu. Although, in characteristically self-deprecating fashion, he dismissed the film as “a mere melodrama”, he also pointed to the vitality of the acting by Shuji Sano, Keiko Tsushima, Rieko Sumi, and others, who he said “were wonderfully alive as Shochiku’s top billed actors”. At the time, Sano, fresh from collaborations with Yasujiro Ozu and Keisuke Kinoshita, was experiencing a second wind in an acting career that had seen him first earn popularity as a matinee idol before World War II.
Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström