IMDb > Street of Shame (1956)

Street of Shame (1956) More at IMDbPro »Akasen chitai (original title)

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Release Date:
4 June 1959 (USA) See more »
Men were their prey! Beauty was their lure!
The personal tales of various prostitutes who occupy a Japanese brothel. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
the uncertain, shaky music of the night See more (14 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Machiko Kyô ... Mickey
Ayako Wakao ... Yasumi
Michiyo Kogure ... 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
Kumeko Urabe ... Otane
Fujio Harumoto ... Aoki
Yosuke Irie ... Kadowaki Shuichi, Yumeko's son
Ken'ichi Miyajima ... Hanae's client
Toranosuke Ogawa ... Mickey's Father (cameo)
Kuninori Kôdô ... Kadowaki Keisaku, Yumeko's father-in-law (cameo)
Eiko Miyoshi ... Kadowaki Saku, Yumeko's mother-in-law
Toshiyuki Obara
Joe Ohara
Shiroyuki Miyajima
Kyôsuke Shiho
Mitsuko Takesato
Sachiko Meguro

Directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Masashige Narusawa 
Yoshiko Shibaki  novel "Susaki no Onna"

Produced by
Masaichi Nagata .... producer
Original Music by
Toshirô Mayuzumi 
Cinematography by
Kazuo Miyagawa 
Film Editing by
Kanji Suganuma  (as Kanji Sugawara)
Production Design by
Hisao Ichikawa 
Hiroshi Mizutani 
Set Decoration by
Shigeharu Onda 
Costume Design by
Tsugio Tôgô 
Makeup Department
Noboru Ishizaka .... key hair stylist
Umeka Shinozaki .... hair stylist
Production Management
Keiichi Sakane .... executive in charge of production
Hiromitsu Ôoka .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Yasuzô Masumura .... assistant director
Bainari Nakamura .... assistant director
Art Department
Taijirô Gotô .... assistant art director (as Taijiro Goto)
Kiichi Ishizaki .... set designer
Ichirô Kanda .... props
Tarô Kawahara .... background artist
Sound Department
Katsutarô Hanaoka .... sound effects editor (as Katsujirô Hanaoka)
Mitsuo Hasegawa .... sound
Yasutarô Shimizu .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Yukio Itô .... gaffer
Shôzô Kanaya .... decorative illumination (as Shôgo Kanaya)
Yoshitami Shigemori .... still photographer
Gentarô Takuma .... lighting technician
Shôzô Tanaka .... camera operator
Other crew
Ayako Irie .... archivist
Ôtei Kaneko .... title designer
Tomekichi Kumazawa .... movement director
Hiroaki Okumura .... stage manager
Otojirô Sakane .... garden

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Akasen chitai" - Japan (original title)
"Red Light District" - International (English title) (alternative title)
See more »
87 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Portugal:M/16 (Qualidade) | UK:12 (2008) | UK:X (1958)

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
the uncertain, shaky music of the night, 4 June 2009
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

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.

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