Quality film news, reviews and features
6th February 2013 13:00:00
Posted by Anthony Nield

Ozu Gangster Films in March

News
The latest volume in the BFI’s celebrated collection of the works of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story), released on 18 March, focuses on his gangster-genre films.

The Ozu Collection: The Gangster Films is a 2-disc set containing three silent films: Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night's Wife (1930) and Dragnet Girl (1933), all coming to DVD for the first time.

Ozu honed his craft in the early 1930s, a time when young Japanese directors were experimenting with cinematic conventions. In these rare, silent works, Ozu mixes a Hollywood-infused dynamism with elements of his later unique and poetic style.

DISC ONE

WALK CHEERFULLY (Hogaraka ni ayume) When Kenji 'the Knife' Koyama, leader of a gang of hooligans, falls for the virtuous Yasue he faces a tough decision: go straight to win her heart or carry on his life of petty crime and easy luxury. With its expressionist lighting - reminiscent of Sternberg's Underworld – and distinctive characterisation, Walk Cheerfully combines international cinematic influences with Ozu's own comic touches.

Japan | 1930 | black and white | silent with English subtitles | DVD9 | 92 minutes | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1

DISC TWO

THAT NIGHT'S WIFE (Sono yo no tsuma) In desperation over the illness of his daughter, young father Shuji turns to crime to pay the medical bills. Enter Detective Kagawa for a tense night-time stand-off with Shuji's wife, Mayumi. That Night's Wife demonstrates Ozu's masterly handling of drama as the film reaches its emotional climax.

DRAGNET GIRL (Hijosen no onna) By day sweet-faced Tokiko (played by Tanaka Kinuyo [Equinox Flower]) is an ordinary typist but come nightfall she's a glamorous, fun-loving gangster's moll. When her boyfriend Joji starts to stray, Tokiko is forced to confront the effects of her dissolute lifestyle. Hugely popular when it was released, Ozu's Dragnet Girl remains one of his most enduring silent films.

Japan | 1930 + 1933 | black and white | silent with English subtitles | DVD9 | 63 minutes + 96 minutes | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1

Each film is presented with a newly commissioned score by Ed Hughes.

Also included is the only surviving fragment of Ozu’s A Straightforward Boy (1929); Ozu: Emotion and Poetry: an extract from Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns’ 2010 lecture on Ozu’s early work and an illustrated booklet.

About Anthony Nield
Anthony hails from Cheltenham and has been writing about film for the best part of a decade. His particular obsessions include British and experimental cinema, non-fiction, and films that have fallen by the wayside. You'll find him reviewing such works in the DVD and Blu-ray sections, plus the occasional feature.