(Hijosen no onna)
Copresented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo, Hideo Mitsui,
The last of Yasujiro Ozu’s several excursions into the world of American-style crime melodrama in the early 1930s centers on the efforts of a gangster’s moll to get herself and her lover/accomplice out of their murky world and into “a decent life.” This film is full of fascinating detail, an atmospheric lighting style, and some nicely observed small roles. Most interesting of all, though, is the presentation of the protagonist’s character. Kinuyo Tanaka tackled an extraordinary variety of parts in the 1930s, and she brings a wide range of moods and emotions to this role (especially in the tense, slightly quirky scenes with the other, rival girl), giving the film a center and force that it might not have possessed otherwise.