A Hero of Tokyo

(Tokyo no eiyu)

35mm Archival Print


Mitsugu Fujii, Mitsuko Yoshikawa, Yukichi Iwata, Michiko Kuwano,

Hiroshi Shimizu’s first acclaim outside Japan spotlighted his films on children and his more genial tales, but A Hero of Tokyo crystallizes his other, more hard-boiled melodramas of social critique and urban noir. After her new husband skips town thanks to shady business deals, a widow covertly becomes a bar hostess to pay for her children’s education. Years later, her secret is revealed, with predictably heartbreaking results that are soon made worse by the husband’s reappearance. Gangsters and prostitutes, newspapermen and swindlers (running a “Manchuria-Mongolia Gold Mine” scheme, in a pointed nod to Japan’s wartime imperialism) merge with family honor and filial duty, creating one of early Japanese cinema’s darkest, most sorrowful works. Shimizu “is unsparing in his depiction of the Japanese family, and trenchant in his criticism of the social assumptions that destroy it from outside and from within” (Alexander Jacoby). 

Jason Sanders
  • Masao Arata
  • Hiroshi Nomura
  • Japanese intertitles
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 63 mins
  • National Film Archive Japan
  • Shochiku

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