1st "Tora-san" feature is funny, sad, wonderful...
First "Tora-san" feature sets up format for the rest of the series, with Tora-san returning home to Shibamata after many years estranged from his family. Atsumi is hilarious, Baisho luminous, and Yamada's screenplay and direction is sensitive yet uncomprimising. As Kevin Thomas of the "LA Times" told me for an article I wrote on the series, these pictures are "sentimental, but in the good sense of the word." The real surprise here is the appearance of Takashi Shimura ("Seven Samurai," "Ikiru") as Hiroshi Suwa's estranged father. His scenes and how they relate to Tora-san's own life, is emotionally powerful stuff sprinkled with some very funny moments as well. It's really a shame that NONE of these movies are presently available on home video in the United States.
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