The faces along the bar Cling to their average day. The lights must never go out, The music must always play; All the conventions conspire To make this fort assume The furniture of home, Lest we should see where we are, Lost in a haunted wood, Children afraid of the night Who have never been happy or good.
said W. H. Auden, and Uchida's film echoes him. It takes place entirely in a beer-hall, in long takes where the actions of other characters continue away from the immediate focus of the film in skilfully choreographed movements moving from one group to another. In the course of an evening we encounter a large set of characters- barmaids, the manager, musicians, an artist who has abandoned his art, students, ex-soldiers, a ballet dancer turned stripper (she never gets to take off more than a mask though), yakuza, existentialists. The younger musician gets his big break and accidentally breaks his master and teacher's heart by it. We get parts of stories of several of the characters, though we never learn everything: why does the ex-colonel dodge paying for his ex-sergeant's drinks?- is he lying when he claims to be an estate agent? Why does the man with a knife attack the stripper? What is- or was- their relationship? As these narratives show, the narrative veers from comedy to realism to melodrama and it is a sign of the writer's and director's skills that they hold them together so well. The music too- almost entirely played by the musicians in the hall- also reflects in different ways- ironically or directly- the actions and emotions before us. This was one of Uchida's three come-back films made in 1955 after a break of fourteen years, and it showed that he still had all of his old skills.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?