8 September 2020 | topitimo-829-270459
Certainly not "Late Spring"...
"Ojôsan kanpai" (Here's to the Lady, 1949) is a lighter turn from director Kinoshita Keisuke: a post-war romance narrative starring popular Shochiku stars Sano Shuji and Hara Setsuko. I like the fact that Kinoshita chose to lighten the mood a little bit, since his didactic melodramas "Kekkon" (Marriage, 1947) and "Fushicho" (Phoenix, 1947) didn't really do that much for me. "Here's to the Lady" however turns out to be a very loose film, that tries to be many different things, only succeeding in some. It's a comedy and also a kind of musical, but it also has some dramatic weight, and works as a time capsule as well. It is particularly interesting because of the presence of Hara Setsuko, and the fact that the star did the film the same year as "Banshun" (Late Spring, 1949), her first collaboration with Ozu.
For "Here's to the Lady" is also a narrative about (sort of) arranged marriage, but it focuses less on the family relationships and more on the courtship and class differences. Sano is working class, and owns a car repair shop. Hara is a daughter of a formerly aristocratic family. Sakemoto Takeshi urges the two to meet, and they start dating, but soon troubles find their way to paradise.
I personally think the film should have focused more heavily on the dating, and the comedic elements. Because of the musical interludes, the drama doesn't feel all that important, but it manages to make the film very uneven. There are good moments, and the Shochiku cast is very good, Hara in particular. Yet because of the tone, I found it difficult to invest myself in these characters, even without any comparisons to "Late Spring".
In the end, the film is okay, certainly it's very harmless, but Kinoshita would truly start blossoming in the 1950's.