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Thursday, January 21, 2016

HIJÔSEN NO ONNA / DRAGNET GIRL (1933)

A poster for Lewis Milestone’s ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT/’30 hangs on an apartment wall in this late silent from Yosujirô Ozu, but the Hollywood influence is all Frank Borzage romantic fatalism in this slightly confusing tale of gangsters based at a boxing club; and the molls, good girls & sisters they tangle with. Loaded with inventive angles & clever details (particularly in the office where one of those ‘good girls’ works), Ozu sets up too many romantic twists & shifting allegiances between his none too threatening thugs to keep easy track of. (Perhaps Japanese audiences have less trouble.) But once the relationships click into place for the last two reels, and the main couple reunite for ‘one last robbery’ (the one that always goes wrong), the missing pieces in the drama don’t much matter. Till then, best for Ozu completists.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Ozu has a neat bit showing his romantic tough guy abnegating a preference for those expensive 12" Victor Red Seal 78rpm records. He doesn’t want his buds to think he’s not a populist thug.

DOUBLE-BILL: Ozu’s earlier Hollywood influenced gangster pic HOGARAKA NI AYUME (WALK CHEERFULLY)/’30 does this all rather better.

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