Street of Shame (1956, Kenji Mizoguchi)

Portrait of a whorehouse at a certain point in time when politicians were discussing whether to outlaw the profession (voted the ban down at the end of the movie, but it eventually passed, some say as a result of the movie). Six or seven prostitutes all with different desperate situations. One has a suicidally depressing home life with sick husband and infant they can’t afford, one is trying to support her son who disowns her when he finds out what she does at work, one is a rich bitch escaping her controlling father, one is aiming to escape through marriage but her husband mistreats her and she comes crawling back, and one is bilking her clients out of extra money so she can quit and start her own business (the only happy ending here).

The same sort of feminine miserablism that I’ve come to expect from Mizoguchi after Life Of Oharu. This one has a more impressive look to it (the main house and the street outside, the costumes, the acting, all exquisite) but still a depressing movie that I didn’t enjoy very much. I may have liked it better than Ugetsu though… have to see that one again, and check out Sansho The Bailiff sometime.

A turning-point year for Japanese cinema: Mizoguchi’s final film, the beginning of the Japanese New Wave, and (according to Reverse Shot) the beginning of “more socially critical efforts” by Yasujiro Ozu. It’s also the year of The Burmese Harp, but I haven’t seen that yet.

Saw this one with Pia from work.

Related posts