Our Neighbor, Miss Yae

Yasujiro Shimazu, mentor to Gosho, Toyoda, and many others, was one of the early masters of shomin-geki, films about the common people-if “master” is not too inflated a word to associate with this charming and gratifyingly unpretentious genre. Our Neighbor, Miss Yae is his best-known film. Through the story of a young girl who falls in love with the boy next door and her unhappily married elder sister who loves the same boy, he paints a picture of daily life for a lower-middle-class family just Westernized enough to enjoy Betty Boop and know the words to “Red River Valley,” as Donald Richie notes. “Technically the film was a triumph,” Richie says, “and in it Shimazu was at his most slice-of-life-like. The plot had its climaxes, but these were never over-emphasized. . . . The lack of action was carefully calculated by the director to give the effect of eavesdropping on life itself."

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