THE LADY AND THE BEARD (SHUKUJO TO HIGE)
(director: Yasujiro Ozu; screenwriter: Komatsu Kitamura; cinematographers: Hideo Mohara/Minoru Kuribayashi; editors: Hideo Mohara/Minoru Kuribayashi; cast: Tokihiko Okada (Kiichi Okajima), Hiroko Kawasaki (Hiroko, Typist), Chôko Iida (Sono haha, Hiroko’s mother), Satoko Date (Satoko), Ichirô Tsukida (Teruo Yukimoto), Toshiko Iizuka (Sono imouto, Ikuko, Teruo’s younger sister), Mitsuko Yoshikawa (Sono haha,Teruo’s mother), Takeshi Sakamoto (Butler); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; BFI-PAL DVD format; 1931-silent-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)
“Lighthearted silent romantic comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Yasujiro Ozu (“Early Spring”/”Record of a Tenement Gentleman”/”The Flavor of a Green Tea Over Rice”), in his twentieth film, directs a lighthearted silent romantic comedy, whose theme is about the times are changing and whose comedy is influenced as usual by the American slapstick of Harold Lloyd, Lubitsch and Chaplin. It’s based on the book by Komatsu Kitamura.
Bearded, kimono and wooden sandal wearing, traditionalist Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) wins his kendo match at the university and gets an invite by his student friend Teruo (Ichirô Tsukida) to attend his younger sister Ikuko‘s (Toshiko Iizuka) birthday party. Walking to the party, Okajima stops the street robbery of Hiroko (Hiroko Kawasaki) by a modern-dressed gal thug named Satoko (Satoko Date). At the party, attended by sis’s female friends, he makes a poor impression on all the westernized girls who judge him by his beard and old-fashioned ways–can’t dance with a girl, but does the kabuki solo. When the university graduate, Okajima, can’t find work, office typist Hiroko advises him to shave off his beard. This works and Okajima lands a job as a clerk with a hotel tourist agency. The removal of the beard also works wonders with the girls, as he now attracts rich girl Ikuko and she seeks his hand in marriage as a protector. Meanwhile Satoko tries to involve him with a stolen brooch, but he foils her crime and returns the gem to the owner. Satoko is now attracted to the unshaven Okajima and goes to his apartment trying to woo him. When Ikuko and her mom (Mitsuko Yoshikawa) show up at Okajima’s apartment and see he’s with Satoko, they leave in a huff. But when nice girl Hiroko shows up, she stays and vows her love for Okajima. Satoko then splits and promises to reform and yearns to be as trusting some day as Hiroko.
It’s a simplistic film, concerned with the western mix of decadence and cultural uplift influencing a rapidly changing Japan. It was shot in a few days and has Ozu’s noted tracking shots and gags, but is only a minor one in his vast opus.
REVIEWED ON 10/30/2012 GRADE: B-