Psychologically toying with a sullen lower-class boy

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 (Masahiro and Keiko)

In Kinoshita’s 1956 “The Rose on His Arm” (Taiyô to bara Kiyoshi (Nakamura Katsuo [who would later play the frantic spender of “Pleasures of the Flesh”] is a stupid, feckless,  sullen, and skinny slacker Kiyoshi who catches the eye of Masahiro (Ishihama Akira), the spoiled and vicious son of the owner of the factory where Kiyoshi has been given a job he has no interest in performing or keeping. (How he got a two weeks’ salary advance mystifies me!)

Masahiro’s sister Keiko (Kuga Yoshiko), who had an abortion after being raped in the seaside town where Kiyoshi and his hardworking mother (Miyake Kuniko) live, tries to help Kiyoshi without any visible agenda, not that Masahiro’s is visible. Masahiro takes up Kiyoshi, giving him money and clothes… and orders. 1956 audiences may not have noticed an erotic component in Masahiro’s domination/submission play (which becomes fatal).

Class plays a very large role in both movies about juvenile delinquents without the funds for the lifestyles to which they aspire, or the education to attain higher status. Sabu and Kiyoshi are not rebels, but exemplars of Mertonian strain (accepting socially valued status but using illegal means to try to achieve it). Does differential association account for Masahiro’s deviance (I mean criminality rather than homoerotic s&m; he may qualify as being a “rebel”). He already has money and status with no loyalty to respectable society.

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(Nakamura some years later)

 

I thought the fight scenes in “Rose” pretty phony in this as in other golden age Japanese movies (including the swordfights in which the hero mows down one after another assailant who has waited patiently for his turn to die.

©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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