7.9/10
2,419
18 user 32 critic

Street of Shame (1956)

Akasen chitai (original title)
The personal tales of various prostitutes who occupy a Japanese brothel.

Director:

Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Ishun is a wealthy, but unsympathetic, master printer who has wrongly accused his wife and best employee of being lovers. To escape punishment, the accused run away together, but Ishun is certain to be ruined if word gets out.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kazuo Hasegawa, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Follows a woman's fight and survival amid the vicissitudes of life and the cruelty of the society.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Tsukie Matsuura, Ichirô Sugai
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In mediaeval Japan a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa
Yôkihi (1955)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Sô Yamamura
Ugetsu (1953)
Drama | Fantasy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A fantastic tale of war, love, family and ambition set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyô, Kinuyo Tanaka
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A mistress of a drug dealer in post-war Japan is shocked when she discovers that he is having an affair with her sister.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Sanae Takasugi, Tomie Tsunoda
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Two geisha sisters lead a hard life in the Gion district of Kyoto. After one of them feels obliged to support a bankrupt businessman, the other sister sets up various schemes to get rid of him.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Isuzu Yamada, Yôko Umemura, Benkei Shiganoya
Uwasa no onna (1954)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Hatsuko Umabuchi is a widow who runs a prosperous geisha house in present day Kyoto. Her daughter Yukiko returns from Tokyo following a failed suicide attempt, after her lover found out ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Tomoemon Otani, Yoshiko Kuga
Gion bayashi (1953)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In the post-war, the sixteen year-old teenager Eiko seeks out the geisha Miyoharu in the district of Gion, in Kyoto asking her to be a "maiko" (apprentice of geisha). Eiko explains that her... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Michiyo Kogure, Ayako Wakao, Seizaburô Kawazu
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Special Forces commander Captain Tadamori returns to Kyoto after successfully defeating the uprising of pirates in the western sea of Japan. But because the high courtiers dislike career ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Narutoshi Hayashi, Raizô Ichikawa, Tatsuya Ishiguro
Osaka Elegy (1936)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young woman becomes a mistress of her boss in order to support her family.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Isuzu Yamada, Seiichi Takegawa, Chiyoko Ôkura
Miss Oyu (1951)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Shinnosuke is introduced to Shizu as a prospective marriage partner, but he falls in love with her widowed sister Oyu. Convention forbids Oyu to marry because she has to raise her son as ... See full summary »

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Nobuko Otowa, Yûji Hori
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mickey
Ayako Wakao ...
Yasumi
...
Hanae
Aiko Mimasu ...
Yumeko
Kenji Sugawara ...
Eiko
Yasuko Kawakami ...
Shizuko
Eitarô Shindô ...
Kurazô Taya
Bontarô Miake ...
Nightwatchman
Haruo Tanaka
Sadako Sawamura ...
Tatsuko Taya
Daisuke Katô ...
President of Brothel Owners' Association
Hisao Toake ...
Shiomi
Jun Tatara ...
Yumeko's client
Osamu Maruyama ...
Sato Yasukichi
Hiroko Machida ...
Yorie
Edit

Storyline

Five prostitutes work at Dreamland, in Tokyo's Yoshiwara district. As the Diet considers a ban on prostitution, the women's daily dramas play out. Each has dreams and motivations. Hanae is married, her husband unemployed; they have a young child. Yumeko, a widow, uses her earnings to raise and support her son, who's now old enough to work and care for her. The aging Yorie has a man who wants to marry her. Yasumi saves money diligently to pay her debt and get out; she also has a suitor who wants to marry her, but she has other plans for him. Mickey seems the most devil-may-care, until her father comes from Kobe to bring her news of her family and ask her to come home. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Men were their prey! Beauty was their lure! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Street of Shame  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was so popular with Japanese audiences upon its initial release, and so poignant in its portrayal of the lives of prostitutes that when an anti-prostitution law was passed in Japan just a few months later, some said it was a catalyst. See more »

Connections

Remade as Akasen tamanoi: Nukeraremasu (1974) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
the uncertain, shaky music of the night
4 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One thing that sticks out like a wonderful, strange thumb in Kenzi Mizoguchi's (unintentional) swan song is the musical score by Toshirô Mayuzumi. With the exception of a couple of scenes, like when one of the older women working at the Dreamland whorehouse is found on the street by another of the women as she has left her husband, the music is far from being the usual melodramatic simple strings and flutes or whatever. The music for Street of Shame is warped, twangy, accentuated by the the playing of that weird one string instrument (if you've heard Jack Nietzche's score for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest you know what I mean), not supplying the emotional context but observing it, setting an unusual tone for scenes that go between melodrama and naturalistic acting. The music by Mayzumi is sad but not the way you'd think; it perfectly puts us in a world that should be the "other" but there's something familiar about it, which fits since these characters, all women servicing clientèle to pay off debts and support their families, are here because it's a job, nothing more.

The film itself is conventionally structured in terms of the ensemble: several women including Mickey, Yumeko, Yasumi, go through the few ups and the many downs of being a prostitute in a city and country that is very mixed about it. It's legal, but there's rumblings on the radio about a vote coming up about whether to ban it for, basically, the reasons it's illegal here in the United States (not too oddly though, prostitution became illegal shortly after the film was released). Mizoguchi handles the social strata of this with tact and care. It's not something that needs to be turned into a message-story, because the women themselves are the message. He leaves it up to the audience on whether to decide on it; at the least he doesn't paint any characters to be total monsters or caricatures, which include the Man and Madam of the Dreamland house are down the line businesspeople, offering these women a way to pay off debts in an atmosphere that the government doesn't really care about, "that they just talk and make money".

But in leaving it up to the audience, he offers up a very strong case for how prostitution does, in a realistic setting, disrupt and break up lives, and curse some to their respective fates. In one plot line a girl dupes a businessman by asking him to pay off her BIG debts (i.e. 150,000 yen) with the fooled intent of marrying him; another, Mickey, is the bright and chipper one until her father comes to call bringing a whole volcanic scene that at the end she replies "what is this, a movie?"; an older woman working there keeps trying to call her son, only for him to split ways with her due to the shame it's caused him (he goes a little over the top explaining "the whole world knows", but it still works in that scene on the street); and a young mother of a baby has to find ways to help her sickened husband to get by.

On the surface, these stories don't seem like they would make for a tragic mosaic of existential circumstance. But this is what it is, a movie that features so much life that it ultimately is very heartbreaking to watch. The women are all strong but there's that weakness that is brought on by society's double-standard: it's not seen as something acceptable to go about working in this business, but what else will the women do to work? Some may get married, but at what cost? Mizoguchi's triumph is in making it something Japanese society can relate to and contemplate, but firstly it's about character, about them being three-dimensional: fragile very deep down but with a veneer that says "yeah, this is what I am, whadda ya want?" Most touching of all, with the music included, is at the end when the young new girl (a virgin) is put to her first night on the job, with her looking on in a daze and awe on a booming-business night. It's really remarkable work by a master of his craft.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Street of Shame (1956) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?