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One of the most delightful Japanese films ever made.
One of the most delightful Japanese films ever made. Yes, the Japanese do make musicals--in fact, quite a lot of them--but most are "kayo eiga" which have only a few inserted songs instead of whole musical numbers that interrupt or at time advance the plot. Oshidori utagassen (roughly translated as "Song Competition Between Lovebirds" (or mandarin ducks, if you are being literal)) is more like a "pure" American musical even though it is set in medieval times. It reveals the influence both of 1930s PCL/Toho musicals like Horoyoi jinsei (1933), based in the contemporary stage revues, and the "bright" jidaigeki of Chiezo Productions. But it also evinces the genius of Makino Masahiro, one of Japan's great directors, who, like Okamoto Kihachi after him, always had a superb flair for tempo and rhythm (witness his brilliant Awa no odoriko (1941) and the end to Ketto Takadanobaba (1937)--less a sword fight than a dance number!). A must-see, and not just for the sight of Shimura Takashi singing! But also check out the other great musicals: the Tanuki goten films, Sannin musume series, the Group Sounds movies, and one of my favorites: Kimi mo shusse ga dekiru (1964).
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