11 November 2019 | topitimo-829-270459
Nomura's crowd-pleaser packs in several genres
Nomura Hiromasa was a Shochiku contract director who started his directorial career in 1930. His films were very popular with audiences, though not always as so with critics. They starred many of Shochiku's biggest stars. Nomura started in comedy, but in the middle of the decade turned to more melodramatic subject matters, such as this one, "Hitozuma tsubaki" (1936).
The film consists of two parts. The version I saw had them stitched together, but possibly they were initially shown separately. The first one ends in a cliffhanger. Though this is classified as a melodrama, Nomura manages to pack in a number of genres. This also has humor, a crime narrative, and even an action sequence, a fight in a burning building. The narrative is about a woman who faces hard times, when her husband is arrested for a crime committed by his boss. The woman also has a child to look after, and they end up meeting several colorful personalities.
The genre-hopping really stopped the societal realism from kicking in, and I could not take the film so seriously. Couple of the comedic elements worked, just as the supporting presence of Sakamoto Takeshi and Iida Choko. There's a whole bunch of familiar actors in the film, though some get lesser roles. Not one of Shochiku's best, from any year.