ASIAN FILM - Article
09:47 - 13th May 2013, by Calum Waddell

The Ozu Collection: The Gangster Films

Before he became celebrated as one of the world's most influential auteurs, the late, great Yasujirō Ozu, most famous for such humanistic dramas as Tokyo Story (1953) and Floating Weeds (1959), dabbled in more generic, Hollywood-inspired efforts. The three films captured here - 1930's Walk Cheerfully, That Night's Wife from the same year, and 1933's wonderfully entitled Dragnet Girl - fully indicate this. From sets and scenarios, to clothing, lighting, narrative causality and even the occasional feisty femme, this is Ozu in full-on pulp mode, albeit with the sort of arty atmospherics that hint at some of the spoils to come.

Walk Cheerfully kicks off this collection in style: the story of a street criminal seduced into going straight by the sexual allure of a local lady. That Night's Wife is even better: a gritty tale of a married man forced into crime to supply for his wife. He ends up being ousted by a detective, but that is just the start of his problems... This is a taught thriller with a compact storyline and some misty malevolence. Finally, comes Dragnet Girl, a slick pot-boiler which hinges (as the other two movies also do) upon a young couple - this time a gangster who finds his muse in a beautiful office worker. It wraps up another admirable BFI release in cracking fashion, being, in its thematic at least, also the most Ozu-like of them all. Like silent cinema? Prepare to love this.

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