In Yukosuka, many are able to benefit financially, legally and illegally, by the presence of the American naval base established after the war. Kinta, who is low level thug within the Himori yakuza, takes care of the yakuza's pig farm but provides some muscle in shaking down among others shopkeepers who cater and this benefit from the lucrative American military trade. Kinta is often asked to sacrifice himself for the yakuza, the promise being that the yakuza will ultimately recognize the sacrifice with bonuses and promotion within the organization. Kinta's girlfriend, Haruko, a barmaid, doesn't like his life and would prefer that they escape Yukosuka to Kawasaki where they could get jobs in her uncle's factory, something that Kinta continually resists in not wanting to be a "wage slave". Haruko is also continually pressured by her mother to prostitute herself, Mr. Gordon who is willing to pay top dollar to be his kept mistress. Kinta and Haruko's fates will be partly affected by the ...Written by
Hiroyuki Nagato and Jitsuko Yoshimura (in her first onscreen appearance) are very much in love. She wants them to flee to another city; her family has just sold her to be a mistress. He wants to hang around. He's a low-level Yakuza member who's in charge of their new operation; they have a contract to get the scraps off an American destroyer, which will fatten pigs, and he's in charge of the pigs. Much better than moving to another town and being a salaryman! However his gang is in upheaval. Someone has run away with the money for the pigs, the boss thinks he's dying of stomach cancer, and the other gang members are plotting on how to split up the boodle, once they've eliminated the old leader.
It's an expert mixture of farce and drama in the midst of chaos from Shôhei Imamura. He had run with similar gangs during Japan's Black Market era. Then he had gone to work in the movies and his earliest known movies were as an uncredited assistant director of three of Ozu's comedies of life among the upper middle class. It's hard to say what Imamura learned from Ozu, except to do exactly the opposite. Ozu's people love each other and gently guide their family towards socially acceptable goals. Money is never mentioned. the set design is impeccable in that simple Japanese style that Ozu seems to have helped define, and the camera is placed humbly on a tatami mat adoringly to gaze up at the actors in long takes. Imamura sets his story in the docklands outside a US Naval base, where cheap and gaudy bars sit cheek-by-jowl with cheap and gaudy brothels. Everyone talks about money, They're deep in debt, they value other people solely for what they can be hustled into doing for them, and the camera occasionally spirals up in a crane shot to spin around during a gang rape.
The only way to make this a comedy is to despise the characters in the movie, and Imamura does so in the most heartless manner. He pauses occasionally to offer an anthropologist's view of the people of this Pandemonium for his audience. He can afford to; he got out. Are any of the people in this movie smart enough to?
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