The story is taken from rakugo (a traditional form of “sit-down” comedic narration), and focuses on the craftily versatile character of Saheiji (played by the great comedian, Frankie Sakai), a man-about-town who gets stuck at a high-class brothel when he can’t pay the bill. The ever-resourceful Saheiji makes the best of his situation by performing various tasks amidst the tumult of the end of the shogunate—but always by making sure to get a “commission” for his troubles. The women of the establishment start falling for this skilled player, but as with many Kawashima heroes, Saheiji is more intent on escape—from everything, it seems. Many Nikkatsu performers, including Ishihara Yûjirô, postwar Japan’s most popular male star, appear in the film. —Aaron Gerow
Yuzo Kawashima (川島雄三 Kawashima Yūzō?, 4 February 1918 – 11 June 1963) was a notable Japanese filmmaker, most famous for making tragi-comic films and satires.
Kawashima was born in Mutsu, Aomori in the Shimokita Peninsula. From his youth, he suffered from a paralysis that affected his right leg and arm. He was educated at Meiji University, where he was a member of the film study circle. He entered the Shōchiku studios in 1938 and served as an assistant director under Minoru Shibuya and Keisuke Kinoshita before directing his film, Kaette kita otoko, in 1944. At Shōchiku after the war, he made many comedies before switching to Nikkatsu in 1955, when the studio resumed film production. There he made such notable works as Ai no onimotsu (1955), Suzaki paradise: Akashingō (1956), Gurama-tō no yūwaku (1959), Kashima ari (1959), and Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate (1957), which was later voted the fifth best Japanese film of all time in Kinema Junpō’s poll of 140 film critics and… read more
Maestro magician, prestidigitator of panache, Kawashima conjures a freewheeling farce of felicitous finesse in a bawdy bordello. Wiith lustrous lighting, consummate choreography and composition, 'tis a coruscating concoction of concuspicent cavortings, pissing and politicking in turbulent times- and for our company a cast of cute combative courtesans, seditious scheming samurai and a jovial japing drifter-grifter.
In our annual poll, we pair our favorite new films of 2012 with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.