Born in Hokkaido, Hideko Takamine entered silent movies as a child star at the Shochiku Tokyo Studios when she was five years old. Her first film, Mother (1929), was such a box office hit, due primarily to her performance, that a career was established on the spot. Immediately thereafter, she enjoyed the same popularity on Tokyo screens as Shirley Temple did — indeed, they were often double-billed on the marquee.
In the files of great Japanese actresses, Hideko Takamine — particularly in those films made together with directors Mikio Naruse and Keisuke Kinoshita — takes her place next to Kinuyo Tanaka under Kenji Mizoguchi’s direction and Setsuko Hara in Yasujiro Ozu’s films. Despite being recognized as a screen immortal in Japan, only a handful of her film appearances are known in the United States, due to the tragic destruction of the Japanese film archives during the war. Thus she’s known in the West mostly by her postwar films, made during that last great period of Japanese… read more
Takamine's twenty-five year, seventeen-film collaboration with Naruse—a partnership that began with Hideko the Bus Conductress in 1941, more than a decade after both had been in the industry, and ended in 1966 with Hit and Run, Naruse's penultimate feature—deserves to be ranked among the greatest in cinema history. It produced a number of masterpieces, including Floating Clouds, Flowing, Daughters, Wives and a Mother and Yearning. Not to be overlooked, however, is her remarkable association with Kinoshita Keisuke, whose first job, ironically enough, was to shoot a closeup of child-star 'Deko-chan', Takamine's early nickname, for Shōchiku in 1933. Their initial film together was also Japan's first full-length color feature, 1951's Carmen Comes Home, and nearly three decades later Kinoshita coaxed Takamine to come out of retirement for what ended up being her final film, 1979's My Son! My Son!