A troupe of actors comes to town, short on funds and bedeviled by bad weather, so they can't put on shows. Kihachi is the troupe's leader. He steals off every day to visit Otsune (an ex-lover) and their son, Shinkichi, who believes his father is a long-dead civil servant. Kihachi has been paying Shinkichi's tuition, and he's now at university. Kihachi's lover, Otaka, the troupe's lead actress, learns Kihachi's secret and plots to ruin Shinkichi and humiliate Kihachi: she offers money to Otoki, the troupe's ingénue, to seduce Shinkichi. Soon the boy is head over heels, and Otoki finds herself with feelings for him. Can this end well or is tragedy at hand? Written by
What did you plan to do with my son?
Who cares about your son?... He's cheap, like you, playing with actresses.
[Kihachi beats Otaka]
Are you sorry? I hope you'll be very sorry. The world is like a lottery. You take your ups and downs.
Let's make up please. That makes us even, you see. Just think how I feel.
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Remakably similar in structure yet different in tonal effect to Ozu's more famous 1959 remake, this story of a travelling troupe's last days in a seaside village was one of Ozu's first forays into a quiet, rural background, though it still feels brisk compared to the more staid and sumptuous remake. The depictions of stage life are more slapstick-oriented than in the remake (most notably in Tokkan Kozo's hilarious turn in a full-sized dog costume), but are counterbalanced by sensitive portrayals of all the characters, especially the great, dignified lead performance by Takeshi Sakamoto. The romantic interludes are as powerful as in the remake, though without employing the overt sensuality of on-screen kissing; instead there appears to be the use of a filter or gauze to give the scenes between the young couple an otherworldly effect, which gives more emphasis of the idea of the actress employed to seduce the troupe leader's son enacting a "performance", an idea that I would have like to have seen developed even further. Even so, this is a marvellous work with a set of wonders distinguishable from that of the remake.
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