Dragnet Girl

Judith Rosenberg on Piano

(Hijosen no onna). This was the last of Yasuziro Ozu's several excursions into the world of American-style crime melodrama in the early thirties and, suitably enough, the story centers on the efforts of a gangster's moll to get herself and her lover-accomplice out of their murky world into “a decent life.” Although the material seems rather over-stretched and sentimentalized towards the end, the early parts are full of fascinating lowlife detail, an atmospheric lighting style, and some nicely observed small-part playing. Most interesting of all, though, is the presentation of the girl's character. Kinuyo Tanaka was tackling 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) and gives the film a center and force which it may not have possessed otherwise.

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