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Yoru no onnatachi (1948)

 -  Drama  -  28 February 1979 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 603 users  
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Fusako Owada, a young woman in postwar Japan, is the mistress of a notorious drug dealer. Fusako's tenuous grasp on meaningful life is shaken when she learns that her lover is having an ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Fusako Owada
Sanae Takasugi ...
Natsuko Kimijima
Tomie Tsunoda ...
Kumiko Owada
Mitsuo Nagata ...
Kenzô Kuriyama
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hiroshi Aoyama
Fusako Maki
Kikue Môri
Sadako Sawamura
Ken Tanaka
Mimpei Tomimoto
Kumeko Urabe ...
brothel-keeper
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Storyline

Fusako Owada, a young woman in postwar Japan, is the mistress of a notorious drug dealer. Fusako's tenuous grasp on meaningful life is shaken when she learns that her lover is having an affair with her sister. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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based on novel | See All (1) »

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Drama

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Release Date:

28 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mulheres da Noite  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Referenced in Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
WOMEN OF THE NIGHT (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1948) ***1/2
3 January 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Kenji Mizoguchi is arguably the greatest Japanese film-maker ever and it is truly a pity, therefore, that this is only the fifth film of his I have watched; luckily, the host of the Italian TV programme which showed WOMEN OF THE NIGHT promised that they will be screening a few more of his films in the near future. In any case, even if I found precious little reading material on the film, that same host dubbed it a "masterpiece" and a French review I found on the Internet said that it was "absolutely unmissable"! Having now watched it, I can verify that it was no idle praise.

Mizoguchi is well-known for being a feminist director and his extensive filmography is full of studies of downtrodden Japanase women of both contemporary and past eras. This happens to be the first bona-fide "women's picture" of his I have watched and even if it may be a notch less appealing than his very best films, UGETSU (1953) and SANSHO THE BAILIFF (1954), it is nevertheless an exceptionally well-made and moving film with a typically strong central performance from Mizoguchi regular Kinuyo Tanaka. Besides, Mizoguchi's remarkably unsentimental outlook ensures that facile answers to the questions raised are kept well at bay but without rendering the film unnecessarily depressing or bleak.

The plot deals with three post-WWII women (from the middle-aged Tanaka to a teenage acquaintance of hers) who all gradually and unwillingly turn to prostitution to make ends meet. The "women of the night" are depicted as being either cynical and bitter (like Tanaka who, despite being infected with disease, still keeps on prostituting herself so as to carry out her revenge on all manhood after being betrayed by her employer/lover), nymphomaniacs (who usually take out their own frustrations on the newer 'recruits') or, worse still, disease-ridden yet pregnant (like Tanaka's younger sister). The kindly doctors who shelter the loose women when in labor are ultimately powerless to prevent them from going back to plying their dangerous trade once they have delivered their usually stillborn children. The devastating final sequence (superbly executed through Mizoguchi's peerless mise-en-scene) portrays just such an occurrence in which Tanaka literally tries to beat some sense into her sister when she joins her on the streets once more, at which point the rest of the prostitutes either vent their anger on the two for scaring off potential customers with all the commotion or take the sisters' side for seeking a way out of their profession.


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