Saturday, October 09, 2010

Daigaku no wakadanna

[Il giovane padrone all’università / Young Master at University] (Shochiku, JP 1933) D: Hiroshi Shimizu; asst. D: Takeshi Sato, Isao Numanami, Yasushi Sasaki, Masaru Kashiwabara; SC: Masao Arata; DP: Isamu Aoki, Taro Sasaki; AD: Yoneichi Wakita; cast: Mitsugu Fujii (Minoru Fujii), Haruo Takeda (Gohei, his father), Yoshiko Tsubouchi (Minako, his younger sister), Sumiko Mizukubo (Miyako, his younger sister), Takeshi Sakamoto (Kimura, his uncle), Tatsuo Saito (Wakahara, Minako’s husband), Shin Tokudaiji (Chuichi, the head clerk), Kyoko Mitsukawa (Hoshichiyo, apprentice geisha), Kinuko Wakamizu (Ofuna, geisha), Kenji Oyama (Horibe, cheering squad captain), Shinichi Himori (Miyake, rugby player), Isamu Yamaguchi (Ogawara, rugby player), Hideo Mitsui (Kitamura, rugby player and Fujii’s kohai [junior at college]); 35 mm, 2330 m, 85 min (24 fps), sound; source: National Film Center, Tokyo. English subtitles on the print. Silent film with a contemporary synchronized score. Viewed at Cinemazero, Pordenone (GCM) with e-subtitles in Italian, 9 Oct 2010

ALEXANDER JACOBY & JOHAN NORDSTRÖM in the GCM Catalogue (boldfacing by me): "Daigaku no wakadanna was the first in a popular series of college films directed by Shimizu and starring Mitsugu Fujii, of which this is regrettably the only example to survive. The National Film Center’s note on the film comments that the film “blends the foolish young master character from the world of rakugo [Japanese comic storytelling] with the American rugby [sic] player to create something that might be called a ‘Japanese-style college film’ ”. Although the influence of American college comedies such as Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman (1925) is apparent, the combination of the university setting with the traditional life of the shitamachi (the poorer and more traditional area of the capital) gave the film the original flavour that was praised by its Kinema Junpo reviewer, Shinbi Iida. The film concerns Fujii, captain of the university rugby club, who is obliged to drop out of the team after he takes an apprentice geisha, Hoshichiyo, to see the rugby ground. He soon begins to cut classes and devotes himself to pleasure. Hoshichiyo is herself in love with Chuichi, the head clerk of Fujii’s father’s business, who is however betrothed to Fujii’s sister Miyako. Meanwhile, Fujii himself falls for the sister of a younger fellow student, Kitamura. Will Fujii resolve these romantic complications in time for the big match? Shimizu’s film, though in many ways atypical for the director, is a remarkable work which displays a surprising emotional intensity. It was both popular and influential. In addition to the series of comedies that it initiated at the time, its style also prefigured Toho’s Wakadaisho series, created for actor Yuzo Kayama in the 1960s. ALEXANDER JACOBY & JOHAN NORDSTRÖM."

Print with variable image quality from good to bad. The soundtrack sounds like an absent-minded record compilation with welcome silences. "The young master", Fujii the protagonist is a man of dubious morals: he steals and lies and seems lost as the future inheritor of the family business, his father's shop. There are also music hall sequences in the picture. The best scene in the film is the geisha's monologue.

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