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Tokyo Chorus (1931)

Tôkyô no kôrasu (original title)
A married Tokyo man faces unemployment after standing up for an older colleague.

Director:

Yasujirô Ozu

Writers:

Komatsu Kitamura (original story), Kôgo Noda (original story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Tokihiko Okada Tokihiko Okada ... Shinji Okajima
Emiko Yagumo Emiko Yagumo ... Tsuma Sugako (His wife)
Hideo Sugawara Hideo Sugawara ... Sono Chounan (First Son)
Hideko Takamine ... Sono Choujo (First Daughter)
Tatsuo Saitô Tatsuo Saitô ... Omura Sensei (Teacher)
Chôko Iida ... Sensei no tusma (Mrs. Omura)
Takeshi Sakamoto ... Rou-Shain Yamada (Old employee)
Reikô Tani Reikô Tani ... Shachou (Company President)
Ken'ichi Miyajima Ken'ichi Miyajima ... Hisho (Secretary)
Isamu Yamaguchi Isamu Yamaguchi ... Kaisha no Douryou (An Employee)
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Storyline

Mr. Omura, a teacher, leads a group of male students in an outdoor drill. One slight, comic young man, Shinji Okajima, has no shirt under his jacket; he scratches at fleas and makes faces behind Omura's back. Jump ahead several years, Shinji is married with three children. He sells insurance, and on the company's annual bonus day, he protests when an older worker is fired. Shinji loses his own job as a result, and he and his wife must find ways to cope. Lassitude, pride, the demands and needs of young children, and relationships from bygone school days all play a part in the outcome of their struggle. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Japan

Release Date:

December 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tokyo Chorus See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku Kinema See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the top 10 of Kinema Junpo's Top Japanese Movies of 1931. See more »

Quotes

Omura Sensei (Teacher): It's been many years since we parted. I'm glad to see you all in good health. May you all continue to prosper through hard work and self-reliance.
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Connections

Referenced in I Lived, But... (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A charmer of a film - great commentary on life's ups and downs, and ups
23 January 2011 | by Eric-1226See all my reviews

Here we follow the tragi-comic story of one Shinji Okajima, a young Japanese man who seems more destined in life for clowning about than being a responsible, productive worker. We meet him early on, in his college years (which some people may mistake for a military training camp), acting pretty much the goof-off or "class clown," basically doing everything he can to diss his exasperated instructor while at the same time hamming it up for his beloved classmates.

Fast forward a few years, and we now find our hero married, with children, and working for an insurance company. One fine day - bonus day, at that - he takes it upon himself to stand up to the boss, who has just fired one of Shinji's older co-worker who seems adept at writing policies for people who promptly die or somehow meet a quick demise, forcing said insurance company to pay out big yen. The boss apparently doesn't have a yen for doing that on a regular basis. Our hero passionately (TOO passionately) sticks up for the older man, which in turn ends up costing him his job as well. The story continues from there, showcasing the travails of our not-so-happy-go-lucky hero and his young family as they soberly tread the muck and mire of Depression-era Tokyo, rife with unemployment, stodgy with traditional Japanese values and honor, treacherous with impending shame if you do the wrong thing in the eyes of your family and peers.

There's a poignant scene in which Shinji, erstwhile white-collar professional, is reduced to plying the streets of Tokyo, carrying an advertising banner and passing out leaflets for a small restaurant run by his former college teacher, whom we met earlier. When his kids and wife become aware of this "degradation," the shame of it all nearly devastates the family.

This movie is a fascinating portrait of a man, of a time, a place, a culture, that all seem so foreign yet so instantly recognizable. Like many silent movies from this era, this movie is NOT in good condition, heavily marred here and there with scratches and "salt and pepper." And yet you sometimes have to remind yourself that the movie was made some 80 years ago in pre-war Japan: in spite of conspicuous examples of an earlier Japan - people wearing kimonos or being transported via rickshaw - there are nevertheless ample scenes of modernization and Westernization. You'll almost do a double take when our hero is served a plate of rice and curried pork chops, and is then given not chopsticks, but a large spoon with which to eat it. In some of the scenes where the men are gathered and dressed in crisp Western-style business suits and ties, you almost expect any one of them could whip out a cell phone and call a client across town…

The point is, the movie is nearly timeless in its keen observations of the human experience, and that's what makes it such a joy to watch. Not to mention that it ends on basically a hopeful and uplifting note. One sad note is that the actor, Tokihiko Okada, who plays our hero, died a mere three years after this film was made. He was only 30! I marvel at what wondrous films director Ozu could have made with him, had he lived on.

Anyway, with this film Ozu has crafted a wonderfully hopeful world, and in so doing gives the viewer a chance to glimpse inside that world and be a part of it for nearly 100 minutes. Those, in my opinion, are 100 very well-spent minutes of your life. See it if you get the chance.


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