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The Most Beautiful (1944)

Ichiban utsukushiku (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | June 1987 (USA)
World War II film about female volunteer workers at an optics plant who do their best to meet production targets.


Akira Kurosawa


Akira Kurosawa




Cast overview, first billed only:
Takashi Shimura ... Chief Goro Ishida
Sôji Kiyokawa Sôji Kiyokawa ... Soichi Yoshikawa, Chief of General Affairs Section
Ichirô Sugai ... Ken Shinda, Chief of Labor Section
Takako Irie Takako Irie ... Noriko Mizushima, dorm mother
Yôko Yaguchi Yôko Yaguchi ... Tsuru Watanabe, president of women workers
Sayuri Tanima Sayuri Tanima ... Yuriko Tanimura, vice president of the women workers
Sachiko Ozaki Sachiko Ozaki ... Sachiko Yamazaki
Shizuko Nishigaki Shizuko Nishigaki ... Fusae Nishioka
Asako Suzuki Asako Suzuki ... Asako Suzumura
Haruko Toyama Haruko Toyama ... Masako Koyama
Aiko Masu Aiko Masu ... Tokiko Hiroda
Kazuko Hitomi Kazuko Hitomi ... Kazuko Futomi
Shizuko Yamada Shizuko Yamada ... Hisae Yamaguchi
Itoko Kôno Itoko Kôno ... Sue Okabe
Toshiko Hattori Toshiko Hattori ... Toshiko Hattori


During World War II, the management of a war industry of optical instruments for weapons requests an effort from the workers to increase the productivity during four months. The target for male workers is an increase of 100% of the production, but the female workers, led by the dedicated Tsuru Watanabe, ask the direction to surpass their goal from 50% to 70%. During the period, the women have to overcome illness and their personal problems to complete their quota. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


The Information Section of the Japanese Navy, just after the success of Sanshiro Sugata (1943) approached Akira Kurosawa about making a film focusing on Zero fighter pilots. Due to budget issues at this stage in the war, he instead made "The Most Beautiful" (1944). See more »


Referenced in Kurosawa: The Last Emperor (1999) See more »

User Reviews

For Kurosawa completists only
24 May 2000 | by bymarkclark.comSee all my reviews

Like SANSHIRO SUGATA PART 2, this film was never released in the U.S. for political reasons. There's not any blatantly anti-American content, as in SSP2, but THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, filmed by government request, was a pro-Imperialist propaganda document.

Kurosawa gamely attempts to weave together a story which functions both as propaganda and as a tender coming-of-age story, but isn't entirely successful. This would have been a demanding proposition even for a seasoned pro, let alone a young director like Kurosawa, directing only his second feature.

The story follows a group of young girls working in an armaments factory in the latter days of WWII. The girls must increase production sharply. The girls suffer hardships of all sorts. One, Tao, emerges as the leader of the group. Through the travails of helping her coworkers meet their quotas, Tao learns courage, fortitude and compassion.

If all this sounds a little boring, that's because it is. Kurosawa's visual signatures are seldom seen. At least the performances are good, especially Yoko Yaguchi as Tao. Takashi Shimura has a thankless, do-nothing role as the foreman of the factory.

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Release Date:

June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Most Beautiful See more »

Filming Locations:

Tokyo, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toho Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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