Sunday, March 26, 2017
*Hitchcock's American stay was much criticized in Britain, although he didn't become a citizen of the United States until 1955. His absence from Britain, especially during the war, may be one reason why, even though he retained dual citizenship, he was not knighted by Queen Elizabeth II until the year of his death, 1980. In 1943 and early 1944, partly in response to the criticism, he went to Britain to make two short propaganda films for the British Ministry of Information. Both of them, Aventure Malgache and Bon Voyage, were in French and were designed to be shown to the Free French forces as morale boosters for the Resistance, although whether they were actually released as such is unclear. After the war they disappeared into the British National Archives and were not rediscovered until the 1990s, when Hitchcock scholars retrieved them for public showing and video release. The story of Aventure Malgache is framed by a group of actors putting on their makeup. One of them remarks on how much another of the group resembles a Vichy official he knew when he was in the Resistance on Madagascar. The official had the actor imprisoned, but after the Vichy government was ousted by the Battle of Madagascar in 1942, the official hid his portrait of Pétain, hung a portrait of Queen Victoria, and stuck his bottle of Vichy water in a cabinet -- perhaps an echo of Claude Rains's dropping the Vichy bottle in a wastebasket in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942). Bon Voyage is a more complex narrative about an RAF pilot who is shot down in France and is aided in his return to Britain by the Resistance -- or so he thinks. When he reaches London he learns that the supposed Resistance man was actually a German counter-spy using him to unmask real members of the Resistance. Neither film is first-rate, though both, especially the unreliable narrative of Bon Voyage, show the sure-handedness of an experienced director.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
|Isao Shirasawa, Chishu Ryu, Chieko Hagashiyama, Setsuko Hara, Ichiro Sugai, Kuniko Miyake, and Zen Murase in Early Summer|
Friday, March 24, 2017
To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), and Red River (1948), and he was to return to form in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Rio Bravo (1959). But The Big Sky looks like a routine Western adventure in that company, even though it has some old Hawksian hands on board in screenwriter Dudley Nichols, cinematographer Russell Harlan, and composer Dimitri Tiomkin. It has the director's characteristic touches in places: overlapping dialogue and the usual male-bonding moments. Some of the latter, especially between Kirk Douglas's Jim Deakins and Dewey Martin's Boone Caudill, verge on the homoerotic, since Boone is given to wearing tight leather pants and both go around with their shirts flared open, making one scene look like it's taking place in a West Hollywood bar and not a St. Louis saloon. The absence of the usual "Hawksian woman," able to return wisecrack for wisecrack, is particularly noticeable. The only woman in the large cast is Elizabeth Threatt, playing an Indian woman named Teal Eye, who doesn't speak English. This was the only film appearance for Threatt, a model Hawks had spotted in a photograph. Her chief function in the film is to provide sexual tension among the members of a crew of fur traders making their way up the Missouri River and to spark a bit of rivalry between Jim and Boone. Teal Eye has been brought along on the expedition by Zeb Calloway (Arthur Hunnicutt) to act as a go-between with the Blackfoot tribe, to which she belongs. Also along for the journey is a somewhat addled Blackfoot known as Poordevil, played by Hank Worden, a regular member of John Ford's stock company who sometimes moonlighted for Hawks. The journey is interrupted by Indian attacks, river rapids, and the threats from a rival trading company, in scenes that are staged and shot well but never provide more than the routine excitement of the genre. Hunnicutt and Harlan received Oscar nominations for their work.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
|Dhritiman Chatterjee and Soumitra Chatterjee in An Enemy of the People|
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
David Thomson has called it Hitchcock's "last unflawed film," but he also observed it was "more abstract than anything he had done before," which I think is absolutely right if you take "abstract" to mean devoted to form without connection to observable reality. For neither the birds nor the people in the film behave as we know actual birds and people to do. They are cinematic constructs: special effects (birds) and the fantasies of a screenwriter (people), manipulated by a director more engaged in playing with his audience than in telling us about nature, human or otherwise. Screenwriter Evan Hunter, very loosely adapting a short story by Daphne Du Maurier, makes a feint at creating plausible characters: the rich playgirl, Melanie Daniels (Hedren); the San Francisco lawyer, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), who plays around in the city during the week but goes home to his emotionally needy mother (Jessica Tandy) on the weekends; the schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), who followed him home to the small coastal community one weekend but could never quite win over his mother and yet decided to stay on among the stereotypically quirky residents of Bodega Bay. But Hitchcock doesn't make us care about them except when they're being attacked by birds. They don't even care that much about one another: Melanie has to remind Mitch to take Annie's body inside after she's found dead from a bird attack on the steps of her house. Mother Brenner is a mildly sinister presence, who clings to Mitch because he reminds her of her dead husband. She casually yields the task of comforting her daughter, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright), to Melanie, although by film's end she has become a kind of surrogate mother for the traumatized Melanie. The Hitchcock who had handled sinister motherhood so deftly in Notorious (1946) and Psycho (1960) has turned unaccountably soft here. The acting is only passable. There are times in the film when I sense Tandy, a great actress, trying but failing to find a character to play. As for Hedren, she's quite good as the Melanie who schemes to find a way to connect with Mitch, but if you watch her in scenes when she's talking with someone else you see an actress who hasn't yet been taught to register what she's hearing on her face. The film is elevated above the mundane -- turned into a classic, in fact -- by Hitchcock's gift for pacing, by the extraordinarily intelligent decision not to provide a music score but to let the sound design supervised by composer Bernard Herrmann serve in its place, by Robert Burks's cinematography, by George Tomasini's film editing, and of course by the Oscar-nominated special effects supervised by Disney pioneer Ub Iwerks. But is it anything more than a movie for people who like to be scared and a case study for film students who want to learn how to scare them?
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
|Jean Martin in The Battle of Algiers|
Monday, March 20, 2017
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Network (Lumet, 1976). Both films should serve as a permanent warning that today's satire is tomorrow's nightmare. A Face in the Crowd is an important film without being a great one. Schulberg's screenplay falls apart in the middle, and the denouement in which Marcia somehow comes to her senses and exposes Rhodes as a fraud is awkward and mechanical, largely because Marcia herself is something of a mechanical character. An actress of considerable skill, Neal does what she can to make the character live, but the words aren't there in the script to explain why she tolerates Rhodes's fraudulence as long as she does. Matthau and Franciosa come off a little better because their roles are written as stereotypes: Cynical Writer and Go-getting Hot Shot. So the film really belongs to Griffith, who parlays his dead-eyed shark's grin into something that should have been the foundation of a career with more highlights than a folksy sitcom and an old-fart detective show. It's a charismatic but ragged performance that needed a little more shaping from writer and director, something that Kazan admitted to himself in his diaries when he wrote about Rhodes and the film, "The complexity ... was left out." Rather than having Rhodes revealed as a fraud to his followers, Kazan said, Rhodes should have been allowed to recognize that he had been trapped by his own fraudulence. Deprived of anagnorisis, a moment of tragic self-recognition, Rhodes becomes a figure of melodrama, bellowing "Marcia!" from the balcony at the end but probably fated to make what Miller suggests to him, the comeback of a has-been. Fortunately, Kazan and Schulberg were wise enough to change their original ending, in which Rhodes commits suicide -- there's not enough tragedy in their conception of the character for that.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
*The infected in 28 Days Later aren't technically zombies. i.e. animated dead people. They're still alive, and they can be killed by ordinary means like shooting or stabbing them.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
|Poster designed by Akira Kurosawa for Madadayo|
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Monday, March 13, 2017
|Den Obinata and Takeshi Sakamoto in Passing Fancy|
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961). But Red Beard seems to me an instance in which the influence wasn't so fortunate. It's a kind of reworking of MGM's series of Dr. Kildare movies of the 1930s and '40s, in which the ambitious young intern Dr. Kildare tangles with the crusty older physician Dr. Gillespie and thereby learns a few lessons -- a dynamic that persists today in TV series like Grey's Anatomy and soap operas like General Hospital. In Red Beard, ambitious young Dr. Noboru Yasumoto (Yuzo Kayama) is sent to work under crusty older Dr. Kyojo Niide (Toshiro Mifune), known as "Red Beard" for an obvious facial feature. It's the 19th century, the last years of the Tokugawa shogunate, and Yasumoto, having finished his studies in Nagasaki, expects that the influence of his father, a prominent physician, will land him a role as the shogun's personal physician. He's angry when he finds that he's been sent to a rural clinic that mainly serves the poor. There is one affluent patient at the clinic, however: a young woman known as "The Mantis" (Kyoko Kagawa) because she stabbed two of her lovers to death. Her wealthy father has built a house for her on the grounds of the clinic, but only Red Beard is allowed to approach and treat her. Yasumoto initially rebels against the assignment, feeling disgust for the patients: When he asks the physician he's replacing at the clinic what smells like "rotten fruit," he's told that that's the way the poor smell. But eventually (and predictably), he learns to respect the work of Red Beard and to value the lives of his patients. Red Beard is hardly a bad movie: Kurosawa brilliantly stages the first encounter of Yasumoto and The Mantis, who has escaped from her house, in a carefully framed sequence, a long take in which the doctor and the madwoman begin at opposite sides of the wide screen -- it's filmed in Tohoscope, an anamorphic process akin to Cinemascope -- with a tall candlestick between them. Gradually, accompanied by slow camera movements, the two approach each other, the doctor trying to gauge the motives and the sanity of the young woman. Finally the calm framing of the scene is shattered into a series of quick cuts, as she attacks with a pair of scissors, and the scene ends with a brief shot of Red Beard suddenly opening the door. Red Beard was shot by two acclaimed cinematographers, Asakazu Nakai and Takao Saito, both of whom frequently worked with Kurosawa, and the production design was by Yoshiro Muraki, who fulfilled Kurosawa's exacting demands for meticulous faithfulness to the period, including the construction of what was virtually a small village, using only materials that would have been available in the period. But what keeps Red Beard from the first rank of Kurosawa's films, I think, is the sentimental moralizing, the insistence of having the characters "learn lessons." Yasumoto, having learned his initial lesson about valuing the lives of the poor, is given a young patient, Otoyo (Terumi Niki), rescued from a brothel where she has essentially gone feral. (During the rescue scene, Kurosawa can't resist having his longtime star Mifune show off some of his old chops: The doctor takes on a gang of thugs outside the brothel and single-handedly leaves them with broken arms, legs, and heads. It's a fun scene, but not particularly integral to the character.) When Yasumoto has succeeded in teaching Otoyo to respond to kindness, it then becomes her turn to teach others what she has learned. The moralizing overwhelms the film, leaving us longing for the deeper insight into the characters found in films by Kurosawa's great contemporaries Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) with his father. Unfortunately, Keita can't follow the American romance -- some of the words in the Japanese subtitles are too hard for him, he says -- and his father only says he'll have to be older to understand it. Moonlight Serenade is one of the late films by Shinoda, who apprenticed with Yasujiro Ozu and became a prominent member of the "Japanese New Wave" in the 1960s. It displays his skill at storytelling, handling several subplots and surprises, and has a fine sympathetic treatment of the people caught up in the postwar crisis. But it's a bit old-fashioned for a movie made in the 1990s, too overloaded with characters and incidents for its own good, and the frame story seems unnecessary.
Friday, March 10, 2017
The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951), and The Ladykillers. Murder and larceny are treated almost as genteel, if eccentric, pursuits, avoiding violence unless it becomes unpleasantly necessary. It's significant that the most menacingly violent member of the crew that pulls off the robbery in The Ladykillers speaks with a foreign accent and is played by the Czech-born actor Herbert Lom, as if only a foreigner would think of killing the sweet old lady (Katie Johnson) who threatens to reveal their crime to the police. It's possible, too, that the mastermind of the crew, Prof. Marcus (Guinness), is not entirely British -- his surname has foreign overtones -- although the oversize false teeth Guinness wears do seem like the product of British dentistry. The Ladykillers is a wry tribute to the Britain that had just muddled through World War II and was emerging from postwar austerity. The house in which Mrs. Wilberforce lives, perched precariously on the brink of a railway tunnel, has had its upper stories condemned as unsafe after the wartime bombing, but it's filled with tributes to the Empire that was crumbling as steadily as the house. She lives alone, guarded only by her late husband's parrots, which he had rescued from the ship he went down on, and by the local constabulary, who tolerate her frequent visits to the station to report things like a neighbor's sighting of a flying saucer. She is obviously an easy mark, however, for Prof. Marcus and his gang: Claude (Cecil Parker), Louis (Lom), Harry (Peter Sellers), and the punchy ex-boxer One-Round (Danny Green), who pose as a string quintet practicing in the rooms Marcus leases in her house. (They play a recording of a Boccherini minuet while they plot the heist, and afterward stash the loot in their instrument cases.) Naturally, they bumble themselves into revealing their secret to Mrs. Wilberforce, and after deciding that they must kill her to protect themselves manage to bumble themselves into killing one another instead. As usual with Ealing Studios comedies, the acting is uniformly delightful: Guinness said he modeled his character on Alastair Sim, for whom the role was originally intended, and it's fun to see Sellers and Lom together some years before their re-teaming in the Pink Panther films. Interestingly, this tribute to the Brits was written by an American, William Rose, who received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. Rose had stayed on in England and married an Englishwoman after service in World War II. Otto Heller's color cinematography and Jim Morahan's art direction add greatly to the success of the film.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
|Tatsuo Saito and Sumiko Kurishima in Every-Night Dreams|
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976) has sledgehammered television quite so thoroughly as Assassin(s). But where Network took the business of television for its target, Assassin(s) aims at the medium's ubiquity and its desensitizing effect on viewers. It's not a novel point, of course, and even the spin writer-director Mathieu Kassovitz decides to give it -- the effect TV has in creating a culture of violence -- is neither fresh nor unquestioned. The story at the film's center is about an aging professional hit man, Mr. Wagner (Michel Serrault), who takes on a young petty thief, Max (Kassovitz), as his apprentice. It's set in the Parisian banlieus that were the socio-political milieu for Kassovitz's earlier (and much better) film about violence, La Haine (1995). It opens with Mr. Wagner guiding Max into the brutal and entirely gratuitous murder of an elderly man (Robert Gendreu), and then flashes back to bring the story up to a recapitulation of the event -- rubbing our noses in it, so to speak. Max is a layabout and a screwup, but there is a core of reluctance within him that Mr. Wagner is determined to obliterate. Eventually, Max takes on his own protégé, a teenager named Mehdi (Mehdi Benoufa), who is decidedly not reluctant to engage in a little killing, seeing it as just an extension of the videogames he plays. Throughout the film, television sets are blaring game shows, commercials, sitcoms, and even nature documentaries in the background, an ironic, if sometimes heavyhanded, counterpoint to the murders committed by Mr. Wagner, Max, and Mehdi. Kassovitz stages much of the film well, extracting full shock value, and he sometimes embroiders the realism of the story with surreal touches: At one point, when Mr. Wagner is walking away from Max, we see a demonic tail emerge from beneath Wagner's overcoat -- or is it Max, perpetually stoned, who sees this? More effectively, reinforcing Kassovitz's treatment of the effects of television, Mehdi -- who is coming unglued after his first commissioned hit -- watches a TV sitcom about a group of young people that suddenly turns into violent, necrophiliac pornography, accompanied by a laugh track. Kassovitz showed undeniable talent with La Haine, and some of it is on display here. Assassin(s) was booed at the Cannes festival, and has never received a wide commercial release in the United States, but it's something of a fascinating (if often repellent) failure.
Monday, March 6, 2017
poison at the box office" by a disgruntled exhibitor in 1938, a label that helped push many of her contemporaries -- Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Luise Rainer -- into early retirement. Dietrich was made of sterner stuff, and after a celebrated turn entertaining American troops during World War II, she carved out a second film career by taking on character roles in films by major directors like Billy Wilder in A Foreign Affair (1948) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Fritz Lang in Rancho Notorious (1952), Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958), and Alfred Hitchcock in Stage Fright. Of these, the Hitchcock film is surprisingly the least memorable. It may be that Dietrich, who had learned everything she could about lighting and camera angles from Sternberg and cinematographers like Lee Garmes, was too much the diva for Hitchcock, who liked to be in control on his sets. But the fact remains that she is probably the most interesting thing about Stage Fright, a somewhat overcomplicated and sometimes scattered mystery in which we pretty much know whodunit from the beginning. Her appearances often come as a welcome relief from the rather tepid romantic triangle involving the characters played by Jane Wyman, Richard Todd, and Michael Wilding. Dietrich sings -- if that's the right word for what she does, being more diseuse than singer -- a few songs, including "La Vie en Rose" and Cole Porter's "The Laziest Gal in Town," and wears some Christian Dior gowns as Charlotte Inwood, the star of a musical revue in London, who bumps off her husband with the help of her lover, Jonathan Cooper (Todd), who is also the lover of a young student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Eve Gill (Wyman). But Eve also gets caught up in the murder plot when she falls for the detective investigating the case, Wilfred Smith (Wilding). Also providing relief from the romantic plot are Alastair Sim and Sybil Thorndike as Eve's separated and slightly eccentric parents, and some funny cameos by Miles Malleson and Joyce Grenfell. The screenplay is by Whitfield Cook from an adaptation by Alma Reville of a novel by Selwyn Jepson. There are some clever Hitchcockian moments, including a flashback that turns out to be a complete misdirection and some skillful tracking shots by cinematographer Wilkie Cooper. But Wyman, the only American-born member of the cast, feels out of her element, and Wilding turns his character into a moonstruck milksop. (Whatever did Elizabeth Taylor see in him?)
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Barton Fink (1991), this time to give us what appears to be a cotton-candy fantasia on movie genres. But Hail, Caesar! seems to me the more successful film. In its sly way it reveals the grip that Hollywood myth and history have on our imaginations, using parodies of Hollywood genre films not just to send up their absurdities but also to show how deeply they color our dreams. At the same time, it explores Hollywood history -- the hold the old studios had on actors' lives, the role of publicity and gossip in creating and destroying stars, the interaction with politics during the Red Scare of the late '40s and '50s -- and combines it with the parody sequences to create a movie that turns out to be a parody of movies about The Movies, a genre that includes everything from the many versions of A Star Is Born to Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952) to, well, Barton Fink. The individual parodies -- the biblical epic, the drawing room drama based on a Broadway hit, the singing-cowboy Western, the Esther Williams extravaganza, the sailors-on-a-spree musical -- are all spot on. But it takes a special audacity -- something the Coens have never lacked -- to send up the anti-communist hysteria that led to the HUAC investigation and the blacklist. The Coens do it by treating the paranoid suspicion that left-wingers were undermining the American Way of Life by injecting Marxism into the movies as if it were real. So we have a communist cell made up of writers who kidnap a movie star for ransom, and another star who defects to the Soviets when the writers row him out to a submarine at night. It's a reductio ad absurdum of Cold War hysteria, as brilliantly handled by the Coens as it was by Stanley Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove (1964). The Coens also tease us by dropping the names of real people into the script. Josh Brolin plays a studio production chief and fixer named Eddie Mannix, which is the name of a real-life Hollywood fixer who kept wayward stars out of the headlines, and he reports to a studio executive in New York named Nick Schenck, the name of the president of Loew's, Inc., which owned MGM. One of the members of the communist cell in the film, a professor "down from Stanford," is called Herbert Marcuse (John Bluthal), the name of a Marxist philosopher popular with the New Left of the 1960s. It's a film of wonderful cameos, including George Clooney as the kidnapped star, Scarlett Johansson as the Esther Williams equivalent, Ralph Fiennes as the director Laurence Laurentz, and Channing Tatum emulating Gene Kelly as the singing and dancing sailor. Tilda Swinton plays the film's competing gossip columnists, Thora and Thessaly Thacker, based on the notoriously powerful Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. By making them twins, the Coens seem to have conflated them with the competing advice columnists Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, née Pauline and Esther Friedman.
Friday, March 3, 2017
House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) and In the Realm of the Senses (Nagisa Oshima, 1976), I had to see what the director of the former -- a brightly colored, over-the-top horror film, set to a bubble-gum pop soundtrack, about a gaggle of Japanese schoolgirls who find themselves in a haunted house and proceed to die in various colorful and inventive ways -- would do with the latter -- a sexually explicit account, with full nudity and unsimulated copulation, of the crime of Sada Abe, who in 1936 killed her lover, Kichizo Ishido, carved their names on his body, and cut off his genitals, carrying them around with her until she was arrested. The story of Sada has been the subject of numerous books and at least five movies in Japan, after her trial -- which resulted in five years in prison -- set off a nationwide sensation, turning her into a kind of folk hero. The result is a curiously show-offy film that Obayashi fills with all manner of tricks: switches from color to black-and-white, characters breaking the fourth wall, eccentric cuts and startling shifts of tone, and deliberate violations of cinematic convention. In one scene, Sada (Hitomi Kuroki) and her lover, whose name has been changed to Tatsuzo (Tsurutaro Kataoka) in the film, are walking along the street together. The camera follows Tatsuzo from right to left as he speaks, then cuts to Sada as she replies. Film convention calls for a shot followed by a reverse shot, in which we see first Tatsuzo and then Sada from different angles. Instead, Obayashi cuts to Sada, filmed from the same angle and still traveling from right to left, as if she has somehow physically replaced Tatsuzo. This and similar impossible cuts and angles in the film are probably meant to suggest Sada's identification with her lover. Tone shifts mark the film from the beginning: It opens with 14-year-old Sada's rape by a teenage boy, a harrowing scene that is nevertheless somehow played as if it were comic, just as later Sada's work as a prostitute shifts into comic mode with speeded-up action and cuts to a voyeur watching from his hiding place, and a fight with Tatsuzo's wife becomes almost slapstick. Obayashi seems determined to avoid anything that smacks of melodrama or sentimentality. but not always successfully. The screenplay, by Yuko Nishizawa, tries to add depth to Sada's story by inventing a young medical student, Okada (Kippei Shina), who tends to her after her rape. He becomes a symbol of Sada's loss of anything but physical love when he is forced to part from her: He gives her his scalpel and has her mime cutting out his heart and taking it with her -- an obvious foreshadowing of her actual use of the scalpel on Tatsuzo. Sada spends much of the film hoping to be reunited with Okada, only to find that he has leprosy and has been sent to an island on the Inland Sea for quarantine. The film ends with a shot of an elderly woman looking out across the sea to the island. In contrast to Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses, Obayashi's film avoids nudity, but this only serves to add another layer of distance between the viewer and Sada. Kuroki, a beautiful young actress, does what she can with the role, but the constant camera tricks and the limitations imposed by the script never let us get more than a superficial glimpse of what drove Sada Abe to act as she did.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I Flunked, But.... (Ozu, 1930)
Tokyo Chorus (Ozu, 1931)
I think the films of Yasujiro Ozu are the perfect exemplar of that powerful task of motion pictures: to enlarge human sympathies. Ozu typically does it by working in his characteristic milieu: the family. Most of us have families, and when we don't (or when we recognize intolerable flaws in the ones we find ourselves in), we form something to substitute for them: clubs, cliques, fraternities, political parties. These three silent movies, lesser or little-known parts of Ozu's oeuvre, shine with their director's deep understanding of human connections. They also document the impact of the Great Depression, not just on Japan but on daily lives around the world. Two of them are about actual nuclear families, the other about a kind of surrogate family. They range from crime melodrama to slapstick comedy to a domestic drama threaded through with humor. All of them reveal Ozu's knowledge of American genre film as well as his ability to transform the generic into the personal.
|Emiko Yagumo and Tokihiko Okada in That Night's Wife|
That Night's Wife begins with a touch of gangster film as we watch the police patrolling the nighttime streets, rousting a homeless man from his perch between the towering columns of a building, then witness a daring robbery of an office by a man masked with a bandanna and the police pursuit that follows. But we gradually learn that the man (Tokihiko Okada) has committed the robbery because he has a sick child and can't pay the doctor. Most of the film takes place in his small apartment, where his wife (Emiko Yagumo) is tending to the child, who the doctor says will be all right if she survives the night. Then a detective (Togo Yamamoto), who has posed as a cab driver and brought the man home, arrives. There's a standoff between the couple and the detective in which, after trying to stay awake all night, the detective prevails. But the film ends with an unexpected turn that in other hands might come off as sheer sentimentality but in Ozu's manages to feel like the working out of an ethical dilemma.
|Tatsuo Saito in I Flunked, But....|
|Tokihiko Okada in Tokyo Chorus|