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  • Inoue Kintaro (1901-1954) directed 52 films between 1923 and 1942. "Sumidagawa" (Sumida River, 1942) is his final one as a director, though he would go on to write a few more screenplays, which arguably turned into more famous films than any of his directorial efforts. In the west, Inoue like so many other pre-war studio directors, is completely unknown. He isn't mentioned in the book "The Japanese Film" by Donald Richie and Joseph Anderson (1959/1982), nor in other books chronicling the history of Japanese cinema. Perhaps he wasn't that an important of a figure in the grand scope of things.

    Inoue was something of a rarity in the sense, that he was a Shochiku house director who seems to have worked mostly in period films, often with big stars like Hasegawa or Bando. "Sumidagawa", named after the river that runs through Tokyo, is also a period film, but thematically a modern one. All the themes that you associate with the normal Shochiku women's films set in the present day are in this film, just in a different context: love, the planning of a marriage, career, family relations and societal melancholy. There is no action or swordplay. The film stars the popular Uehara Ken, who I've mostly seen in films with a present-day setting. The characters are much more lively than in the usual war-time jidai-geki films, with distinct personalities. The narrative isn't anything too special, and neither are the visuals, but it's a competently made film all in all, with lots of familiar actors in supportive roles.