Archive for September 6th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1947 89m) not on DVD

Aka. Anjô-ke no butôkai

A fallen monkey keeping up the show

p  Takeshi Ogura  d  Kozaburo Yoshimura  w  Kaneto Shindo  story  Kozaburo Yoshimura  ph  Toshio Ubakata  m  Chuji Kinoshita  art  Tatsuo Hamada

Osamu Takizawa (Tadahiko Anjo), Masayuki Mori (Masahiko Anjo), Setsuko Hara (Atsuko Anjo), Yumeko Aizome (Akiko Anjo), Shinichi Himori (Takehiko), Michiko Ikuno (Kiku), Masao Shimizu (Shinkawa), Takashi Kanda (Toyama), Keiko Tsushima (Yoko Shinkawa), Chieko Takehisha (Chiyo),

Generally speaking, Japanese cinema of the 1940s doesn’t have the greatest reputation amongst native or international critics; that during the war largely bearing the marks of either propaganda or escapism, and that coming after taking a few years to really find its feet, despite excellent work from Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi.  Yet there are other names of the same epoch who are not so well fêted, rarely mentioned at all even in the highest circles.  Take Heinosuke Gosha, better still take Kozaburo Yoshimura and the film commonly seen as his masterpiece, The Ball at the Anjo House.  It took me over a decade to track down a subtitled copy, which speaks volumes in itself.

            In the Japan of the post WWII American occupation, famous aristocratic family head Tadahiko Anjo has been kept afloat by having his name used to front a munitions factory run by the underground leader Shinkawa.  Now the war is over, it’s no longer of benefit to Shinkawa to be associated with a relic of the old regime, so he announces that the engagement of his daughter Yoko to Anjo’s son Masahiko is to be called off and lets it be known in no uncertain terms that he will claim the Anjo mansion as his own to call back the family debts.  They are offered a way out by their ex-chauffeur Toyama, who offers to buy out Shinkawa, but one of Tadahiko’s daughters, the now scandalised divorcee Akiko, who once spurned Toyama’s affections, puts paid to it.  Meanwhile, her brother Masahiko overhears Shinkawa’s intentions and sets out to disgrace his one-time fiancée, but doesn’t bother to tell his girlfriend and beloved maid Kiku.  Finally, there’s the loyal daughter Atsuko, who struggles to come to terms with her own future, while worrying about her father, who despite doing right by his long-time geisha mistress, has thoughts of ending it all.  (more…)

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