Mikio Naruse’s earliest film in circulation is a charming, breezy short about an impoverished insurance salesman, Okabe, who is desperate to sell a policy to a wealthy family, and his scrappy young son.
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I was really surprised at how fantastic this film was. I was really very moved. It starts comedic and light then just hits you across the face with some superb dramatic elements. It ain't Naruse's best film, no way, but it's really much better than I supposed it would be. 4/5
One of early Naruse's gems this comical perspective on Japanese professional morals and family duty is driven by great characters and gags appropriate to the late silent era. Naruse experiments with Soviet montage techniques too which add a moderate dose of modernism. Funny and bitter at points it is prescient in terms of the perils of market competition. A beautiful piece of early Japanese cinema.
For such a bitter man who by all accounts was entirely lacking a sense of humor, Naruse was an expert director of comedies. Of course, this is a comedy about failure and poverty that ends with a kid getting hit by a train... but great fun, full of inspired gags and surreal moments.
Some Chaplin-worthy business here. And Naruse's already on about his pet themes (namely, how brutal getting along in this life can be), though the ending is very unlike him, in that it doesn't take its chance to be utterly devastating.
eerie near miss. insurance salesman's care for another child in place of his own recalls nannies, wet nurses, other women who have done the same for rich children. poverty horror couched in uneasy comedy
Loved this intro to the Naruse universe. The great dichotomy of comedy and drama and the experimental sequences used appropriately. Does really have a very charming quality about it that comes from the range of emotions.