Mr. Thank You


35mm Archival Print


Ken Uehara, Michiko Kuwano, Mayumi Tsukiji, Kaoru Futaba,

Realism, for Hiroshi Shimizu, was not a trend imposed by fashion; he was like a sketch artist capturing the world he saw and creating, for us, a vivid portrait of mid-1930s Japan. For Mr. Thank You, he adapted a story by Yasunari Kawabata into a road movie, shot entirely on location in and outside of a bus as it chugs its way through hills and villages (accompanied by favorite American tunes). The ever-cheerful eponymous bus driver is at the center of a group of strangers, including a man in a fake mustache, a sassy moga (modern girl), and a destitute mother and her young daughter, on her way to be sold as a prostitute. They, and the people they encounter—itinerant performers, Korean laborers, and indeed, all manner of migrants—are an image of the bitter sacrifices the Japanese people made to growing industrialization. But Shimizu sketches them and moves on, leaving us with the impression that we have seen a delightful, humorous, and touching film. “That chirpy, cheerful bus ride . . . is the Shimizu film that comes closest to a full-scale social portrait of the 1930s. Mr. Thank You is not a film that smiles through its tears but one that speaks out in anger behind the superficial good humor” (Alan Stanbrook).

  • Hiroshi Shimizu
Based On
  • a novel by Yasunari Kawabata
  • Isamu Aoki
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 76 mins
  • National Film Archive Japan
  • Janus Films

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