Yasujiro Ozu: The Gangster Films DVD
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Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Produced in 1930-33
Main Language - Silent with English subtitles
Contains Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night's Wife (1930) and Dragnet Girl (1933), the films passing in a whirl of tracking shots, noir lighting and crash-zoom reveals, writes Mike Bartlett.
Night-time manhunts through deserted streets, confrontations in seedy hotel rooms, girls with guns and men in Fedoras – surely this isn't the same director who gave us the quiet family drama of Tokyo Story? But in his early career, Ozu was in thrall to American films, often aping their style as well as pinching their storylines.
So it is that these three silent films - Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night's Wife (1930) and Dragnet Girl (1933) - seem like a whirl of fast-moving tracking shots, noir lighting and crash-zoom reveals. Even when the hero is about to give himself up to the police, he wears his hat at a rakish angle, the epitome of movie poster cool.
The real gem here is That Night's Wife, where this youthful zest collides headlong with the more mature Ozu. A father is reduced to stealing to pay for his sick daughter's medical bills. But he's tracked back home by a detective and his wife is forced to take desperate measures. The performances are extraordinarily subtle and there's a communication of character through close-ups of hands that would put Bresson to shame. A minor masterpiece waiting to be discovered.
Michael Bartlett on 19th February 2013
Author of 29 reviews
Contains the three silent Yasujiro Ozu films Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night's Wife (1930) and Dragnet Girl (1933) plus the only surviving fragment of Ozu’s A Straightforward Boy (1929).
The latest volume in the BFI’s collection of the works of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu focuses on his crime films. Ozu honed his craft in the early 1930s, a time when young Japanese directors were experimenting with cinematic conventions. In these rare silent works, Ozu mixes Hollywood-infused dynamism with elements of his later unique, poetic style. Each film is presented with a newly commissioned score by Ed Hughes.
Walk Cheerfully: Kenji 'the Knife' Koyama, leader of a gang of hooligans, falls for the virtuous Yasue. Will he go straight to win her heart or carry on his life of petty crime? Reminiscent of Sternberg's Underworld with its expressionist lighting, Walk Cheerfully combines international cinematic influences with Ozu's own comic touches.
That Night's Wife: Young father Shuji turns to crime to pay his daughter's medical bills. Enter Detective Kagawa for a tense night-time stand-off with Shuji's wife, Mayumi. That Night's Wife demonstrates Ozu's masterly handling of drama as the film reaches its emotional climax.
Dragnet Girl: By day sweet-faced Tokiko (Tanaka Kinuyo) is an ordinary typist but come nightfall she's a fun-loving gangster's moll. When her boyfriend strays, Tokiko is forced to reassess her life. Hugely popular when it was released, Ozu's Dragnet Girl remains one of his most enduring silent films.
Length: 264 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 18th March 2013
Cat No: BFIVD951
- 2 discs
- Digitally remastered with newly created English subtitles
- The only surviving fragment of A Straightforward Boy (1929, 13mins)
- Newly commissioned scores by composer Ed Hughes
- Ozu: Emotion and Poetry (2012, 10 mins): extract from Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns' 2010 lecture
- Fully illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays.