Another superbly realized late silent from Japan’s Mikio Naruse, further refining his skill set on one of his signature Working Woman stories. Here, an apparently single mother is employed as ‘hostess’ at a tough waterfront bar (she’s more like a roving Geisha) when her long-missing ‘ex’ unexpectedly returns home. A sweet, unambitious man, he hasn’t the will or drive to buck the depressed economy and, with his self-defeating hangdog demeanor, even the lowest jobs pass him by. Yet, he fully believes he can somehow support his wife & child. With what? Someone’s got to earn an income, especially when an accident and hospital bills show up. Naruse gets beautiful perfs from wife, kid, dad (exceptionally lovely work from a goateed Tatsuo Saitô), and finds telling details that make his small, rather melodramatic story feel grounded. Technically, he’s still got a yen for fast tracking Push-In shots, but there’s now point as well as punctuation to them. And, in a brief, but fascinating sequence that covers a police chase thru back streets after a robbery, the film presentation suddenly tilts toward Fritz Lang @ UFA to fabulous effect; an explosion in style that must have completely flummoxed the execs @ Shochiku Kamata Productions.
DOUBLE-BILL: As seen above, the Criterion SILENT NARUSE box.