I saw this mini-masterpiece tonight at New York's Japan Society on the tail end of their "Comedy and Horror" night in the series "The Dawn of Japanese Animation." Each selection of weird, Fleischer Bros. and early Disney-inspired distinctly, yet Japanese cartoons are paired up with a live action movie in the same spirit.
"The Treasure That Is Children" (or "Kid Commotion" as the title literally translates) is a brilliant comedy that combines the rapid-fire sight gags of Chaplin and Keaton with the biting misanthropy and social satire of Shohei Imamura in full "The Pornographers" mode. Silent comic star Ogura Shigeru wears his Chaplin influence on his sleeve (or rather, his entire wardrobe, including a similar mustache, and a lanky physicality) but he manages to make his bumbling man-child of an expectant father, Mr. Fukuda. Painful slapstick humor abounds at the expense of pregnant women, children, and a poor defenseless piglet. It's really sad that the majority of Torajiro Saito's silent comedies were lost to the ages: we should get what still remains of this great filmmaker's work on DVD, pronto!
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