Like Ernst Lubitsch, whom he studied, Gosho was an early experimenter in the narrative uses of sound (and silence). Japan’s first “all talkie,” this charming comedy lends itself to a natural use of sound. A playwright is distracted from his work by the din of a jazz band practicing next door. He goes over to complain but is totally disarmed by the lady of the house. The whole film plays on the presence of sound, from blaring horns and crying children to the duets our hero engages in with the neighbor’s wife to the dismay of his own spouse. The film also demonstrates the growing importance of Western influences to the Japanese. American jazz, modern French painting, and Western dress are treated positively, if comically. But nothing quite prepares one for the closing duet of husband and wife singing “My Blue Heaven” on their Sunday outing with the children. Look for Gosho’s signature use of brief, separate shots, another influence from abroad. —BAM/PFA
Heinosuke Gosho (1902–1981) began his career in 1925 as a disciple of Yasujiro Shimazu at Shochiku Studio. Young Gosho immediately proved his skill at the genre of “shomin-geki,” stories of the life of ordinary people, characteristic of his mentor’s work at that studio. Gosho’s early films were criticized as “unsound” because they often involved characters physically or mentally handicapped ( The Village Bride and Faked Daughter ). Gosho’s intention, however, was to illustrate a kind of warm and sincere relationship born in pathos. Today, these films are highly esteemed for their critique of feudalistic village life. Gosho was affected by this early criticism, however, and made his next films about other subjects. This led him into a long creative slump, although he continued to make five to seven films annually.
The first film by Gosho to attract attention was Lonely Hoodlum of 1927, a depiction of the bittersweet life of common people, Gosho’s characteristic subject. In 1931… read more