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Women of the Night (1948)

Yoru no onnatachi (original title)
A mistress of a drug dealer in post-war Japan is shocked when she discovers that he is having an affair with her sister.

Director:

Kenji Mizoguchi

Writers:

Eijirô Hisaita (novel), Yoshikata Yoda (story)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Kinuyo Tanaka ... Fusako Owada
Sanae Takasugi Sanae Takasugi ... Natsuko Kimijima
Tomie Tsunoda Tomie Tsunoda ... Kumiko Owada
Mitsuo Nagata Mitsuo Nagata ... Kenzô Kuriyama
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hiroshi Aoyama Hiroshi Aoyama
Fusako Maki Fusako Maki
Kikue Môri
Sadako Sawamura
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka
Minpei Tomimoto Minpei Tomimoto
Kumeko Urabe ... brothel-keeper
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Storyline

In the post-war Japan, Fusako Owada lives in the home of her mother-in-law with her baby that is ill while waits for the return of her husband from the war. When she learns that her husband has died and her baby also dies, she moves to another city with her neighbor Kumiko Owada to work as secretary executive for the opium dealer Kenzô Kuriyama. One day, she stumbles upon her missed sister Natsuko Kimijima that has returned from the Korea on the street and she learns that Natsuko works as a dancer in a night-club. Natsuko moves to Fusako and Kumiko's apartment and soon she has a love affair with Fusako's boss. However Fusako is secretly Kuriyama's mistress and upset, she vanishes. One day, a client of Natsuko in the night-club tells to her that he saw Fusako in the Red Light District. Natsuko that is pregnant decides to seek her sister out in the prostitution area. Will she find Fusako? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975) See more »

User Reviews

 
WOMEN OF THE NIGHT (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1948) ***1/2
3 January 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Kenji Mizoguchi is arguably the greatest Japanese film-maker ever and it is truly a pity, therefore, that this is only the fifth film of his I have watched; luckily, the host of the Italian TV programme which showed WOMEN OF THE NIGHT promised that they will be screening a few more of his films in the near future. In any case, even if I found precious little reading material on the film, that same host dubbed it a "masterpiece" and a French review I found on the Internet said that it was "absolutely unmissable"! Having now watched it, I can verify that it was no idle praise.

Mizoguchi is well-known for being a feminist director and his extensive filmography is full of studies of downtrodden Japanase women of both contemporary and past eras. This happens to be the first bona-fide "women's picture" of his I have watched and even if it may be a notch less appealing than his very best films, UGETSU (1953) and SANSHO THE BAILIFF (1954), it is nevertheless an exceptionally well-made and moving film with a typically strong central performance from Mizoguchi regular Kinuyo Tanaka. Besides, Mizoguchi's remarkably unsentimental outlook ensures that facile answers to the questions raised are kept well at bay but without rendering the film unnecessarily depressing or bleak.

The plot deals with three post-WWII women (from the middle-aged Tanaka to a teenage acquaintance of hers) who all gradually and unwillingly turn to prostitution to make ends meet. The "women of the night" are depicted as being either cynical and bitter (like Tanaka who, despite being infected with disease, still keeps on prostituting herself so as to carry out her revenge on all manhood after being betrayed by her employer/lover), nymphomaniacs (who usually take out their own frustrations on the newer 'recruits') or, worse still, disease-ridden yet pregnant (like Tanaka's younger sister). The kindly doctors who shelter the loose women when in labor are ultimately powerless to prevent them from going back to plying their dangerous trade once they have delivered their usually stillborn children. The devastating final sequence (superbly executed through Mizoguchi's peerless mise-en-scene) portrays just such an occurrence in which Tanaka literally tries to beat some sense into her sister when she joins her on the streets once more, at which point the rest of the prostitutes either vent their anger on the two for scaring off potential customers with all the commotion or take the sisters' side for seeking a way out of their profession.


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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

28 February 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mulheres da Noite See more »

Filming Locations:

Osaka, Japan

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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