Kinoshita’s sort-of rock musical: “Sing, Young People” (1963)

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Although Kinoshita’s “Sing, Young People!” (Utae Wakôdotachi, 1963) could be said to have pandered to the youth of that day and to have verged on being a sitcom, and certainly provides no profound insight into the university students of 1963 (following the failed campaign against ratifying an extension of the security treaty with the US), it is mildly amusing. The four friends, two pairs of dormitory roommates are fairly engaging.

Miyamoto (Kawazu Yûsuke [Cruel Story of Youth, who played a supporting part in Kinoshita’s “Snow Flurry” and “Farewell to Spring,” and, later, second lead in Suzuki’s “Fighting Elegy”], above) had been the hotshot of the group, the ladykiller and the one with the best grades. He does not react well to the unexpected success and fame of Mori, (Matsukawa Tsutomu, who would return for “Legend of a Duel to the Death” before fading away), who had been working part-time as a window-washer. It is indeed doing that that got him noticed by those putting together a new tv soap opera and looking for a new face to star in it. (The company launching the series is Shochiku, the studio that released all Kinoshita’s movies over the 45-year course of his career as a director.)

The nerdy Hirao (Yamamoto Kei) is generous with the sweets his mother sends him and in providing admiration to his friends, including Okada, who Miyamoto sends to blow off a girl with whom Okada is soon embroiled. Okada’s disapproving grandmother (Ozu regular Higashiyama Chieko) is entertainginly shocked and appalled at his lack of seriousness. His father had married in and been a disappointment, and her hopes are pinned on her grandson, who does not want the responsibility.

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©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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