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

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Down 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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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 »
(15 articles)
The Dardenne Brothers’ 10 Favorite Films
 (From The Film Stage. 19 October 2015, 12:40 PM, PDT)

Films that contributed to a change in the law
 (From Den of Geek. 28 August 2014, 1:37 AM, PDT)

Relish Mizoguchi's Heroines -- and Deep Empathy -- at Momi
 (From Village Voice. 29 April 2014, 9:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
'we are really like social workers'. See more (17 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)
Kokuten 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)

Did You Know?

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 »
Movie Connections:


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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
'we are really like social workers'., 28 June 2008
Author: GyatsoLa from Ireland

Watching this movie almost makes me feel like delivering an apology to Mizoguchi. Thanks to the wonderful Masters of Cinema releases of his movies I've been slowly working my way through his late period movies. I love them, but I felt that the failure of so many was an excessive formality - a feeling that his characters were not real people, more symbols of various levels of society. This movie is totally different, it is packed with wonderfully realized, vivid characterizations. Ironically, its his last film, but rather than being a swansong it was absolutely cutting edge - the film has a thoroughly modern feel to it, even down to its weirdly avant garde music (the one thing about it I have to say grated with me). And I understand it was one of his biggest commercial hits, a huge success in its day.

The story follows a group of prostitutes in 'Dreamland' a typical brothel of its day in the nighttime quarter of Toyko, shortly before they were made illegal. At the time, brothels were seen as mildly disreputable, but still legitimate businesses. The women work 'voluntarily', but most are trapped due to debts and poverty. They range from the tough, selfish and westernized 'Mickey', a wonderful Machiko Kyo (unrecognizable from the ghost in Ugetsu), the very beautiful Ayako Wakao as the angelic looking but thoroughly ruthless Yasumi, Aiko Mimasu as the aging Yumeko, and a variety of other characters, all without exception wonderful and believable performances.

While humanizing all his characters, Mizuguchi doesn't pull punches about the desperate poverty of the time and the dire straits the women are in. The brothel owner repeatedly insists he is like a social worker, looking after poor women - and he is so convincing he believes it himself. The script never falls into the trap of didactic sermonizing, it simply lets the stories speak for themselves. Maybe Mizoguchi, who was no stranger to brothels in his private life had deeply ambiguous feelings for them himself.

Its interesting to compare this movie to another similar one of this period (and a personal favourite of mine) - Mikio Naruse's 'Flowing', which is much less direct and harsh, with more of an air of sadness at how a part of Japanese society was fading away - but then again, that film was set in a more genteel upmarket geisha house.

This is an immensely fine movie - structurally its amazing that such a complex story with so many characters could be so convincingly told in a relatively short run time - a lesson to all modern film makers. Its absolutely riveting and a masterclass in film making and acting.

But as a final point, films like this are often difficult to end - there is no clear way of finishing a story without a clear narrative arc and how many times have we all seen great movies that let us down with a contrived or poorly thought through ending? I won't give it away, but the ending of 'Akasen Chitai' is quite unexpected and absolutely devastating. Its starkness should by rights leave it up there with the famous last scene in '400 Blows' as one of the greatest in cinema history.

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