Archive for October 29th, 2010


by Allan Fish

(Japan 1935 92m) not on DVD

Aka. Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo

It‘s not worth three mon

d  Sadao Yamanaka  w  Shintaro Mimura  ph  Jan Yasumoto  m  Goro Nishi  art  Kohei Shima

Denjiro Okochi (Sazen Tange), Kiyozo (Ofuji), Kunitaro Sawamura (Genzaburo Yagyu), Reisaburo Yamamoto (Yokichi), Minoru Takase (Shigeju), Shoji Kiyokawa (Shichibei), Ranko Hanai (Ogino), Harutaro Mune, Katsutaro Bando, Taro Sochun, Zenichiro Kito,

The most famous of several versions of this famous comic tale is the earliest of the three Sadao Yamanaka films to survive – only Kochiyama Soshun and the previously discussed Humanity and Paper Balloons survive of his later work.  It’s undoubtedly the lightest of the three extant works, and seems more indicative, retrospectively, of the Japan of the mid thirties, the period when Ozu, Naruse, Uchida and, especially, Shimizu, were at the forefront of Japanese cinema.  Sazen Tange may not have the dramatic intensity of Paper Balloons, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, richly entertaining piece for all that

            An old legend tells of how a rich feudal lord buried hidden treasure underground and the only instructions on how to find it were in the form of a map on an otherwise worthless clay pot decorated by monkeys.  One lord finds out this secret, but realises the pot, which had been in his possession, was passed to his brother to give to his future son-in-law on the occasion of their wedding.   The lord takes steps to get a retainer to try and inveigle the pot back into his hands, but smelling a rat the brother beats the truth out of the retainer and finds that it’s potentially worth a million ryo.  The problem is his young wife, who like him had thought it an insulting eyesore up until then, has sold it for a few mon to two junk dealers.  They in turn give it to a small boy to keep his goldfish in.  Then a one-armed and one-eyed samurai, Sazen Tange, is called in to look for it… (more…)

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