26 August 2019 | boblipton
The Question of Guilt
Jitsuko Yoshimura's father cannot go fishing in his boat, so her mother sells her to a brothel. Her first customer is a wealthy sawmill owner, and she soon becomes a popular girl, with many regulars. One day she takes a new customer, who turns out to be the estranged son of the mill owner. Before he leaves for the army, he makes her promise not to sleep with his father. The old man will not be denied, and dies in her arms. Some time later, she is questioned by military intelligence about her relationship with the son. He had gone mad, attacked a Royal Guardsman, and been killed.
Miss Yoshimura becomes the talk of the town; apparently it is bad luck to sleep with a father and a son, and she gains a threatening reputation, even though she thinks it nonsense. Then the sawmill owner's other son shows up.
It's a sad and eerie story about the Japanese culure and their attitudes toward women of pleasure and the inchoate animism that survives in the nation. In Miss Yoshimura, the film has an actress well suited for the part. She was a favorite actress for Shôhei Imamura, a director of weird and nasty stories about the lower classes. This is not an Imamura film, however. It was directed by Heinosuke Gosho, a respected workhorse director for Shochiku. He was born in 1902, and directed the first of his 99 movies in 1925; my favorite of the ones I have seen is THE DANCING GIRL OF IZU. He worked a lot in the Shomin-Geki genre, and although he was never considered as important as directors like Ozu or Naruse, he directed Japan's first sound film in 1931, the funny THE NEIGHBOR'S WIFE AND MINE. Over more than 40 years, he won many awards. In the 1950s, he won a special prize at the Berlin festival and was nominated for a Golden Lion at Venice twice. He retired in 1968 and died in 1981.