Released the same year as Chikamatsu Monogatari, Uwasa no Onna [The Woman in the Rumour] offers a contrasting portrait of attitudes and mores concerning love and relationships. Set in a modern Kyoto geisha house, the eponymous woman in the rumour is Hatsuko (Kinuyo Tanaka, star of countless Mizoguchi films, in her last role for the director with whom she was often romantically linked), madame of her own geisha house. When Hatsuko ends up pursuing the same man as her daughter, Yukiko (Yoshiko Kuga), both women are forced to confront their attitudes towards each other and the family business. –Masters of Cinema
Kenji Mizoguchi entered the film world as a promoter of Western novelty in Japanese cinema and exited it as an acclaimed international director who exemplified Japan at its most traditional. After The Life of Oharu and Ugetsu won prizes in successive Venice Film Festivals in the early ‘50s, Mizoguchi became an icon for the nascent French New Wave. His mastery of mise-en-scène was lauded by Jacques Rivette, while Jean-Luc Godard praised his metaphysics and his stylistic elegance. Mizoguchi is still recognized as one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers. Born in Tokyo, in 1898, Mizoguchi was the middle child of a roofer/carpenter. His family’s financial situation went from modest to desperate when his erratic, dreamer father tried to make a killing by selling raincoats to the military during the Russo-Japanese war. Not having enough money for food, Mizoguchi’s older sister was put up for adoption at age 14. She was later sold to a geisha house. Mizoguchi himself… read more
Mizoguchi's follow-up to Sansho The Bailiff was the final film he made with Kinuyo Tanaka. She plays the ageing owner of a brothel who is in danger of losing the doctor she's in love with to her own daughter after she asks him to look after her following a suicide attempt. Tanaka is typically excellent in the role, as is Yoshiko Kuga as the daughter. Not one of Mizo's more heralded films but up there with his best...
Mizoguchi's few films during this year I consider comparable to Ozu's in their themes of concern: generational conflicts and problems in romantic relationships, counting this one, "The Crucified Lovers" and "Sansho the Bailiff". Mizoguchi's treatment of these tends to be more earthly than Ozu's, obviously, but one can sense a sort of intuitive bond between the ideas presented I feel.