Mizoguchi’s “Women of the Night”


Though only running 73 minutes, I thought that Mizoguchi Kenji’s 1948 movie “Women of the Night” (Yoru no onnatachi) interminable. Also contrived, increasingly overwrought (dare I say “hysterical”?), increasingly preachy, way melodramatic, with an intact stained-glass window of the Virgin Mary in a bombed-out church as the scene for the witches’ (prostitutes) cabal. As usual, the women are treated badly, not only by men who exploit them, but by female prostitutes who drag newcomers or those trying to break away back, like crabs in a basket.

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It was the only Japanese movie from the immediately postwar years that I’ve seen that showed rubble along with broken lives, though it looked to me that the movie was shot in a studio. Kinoshita’s prosperous family and patriarch seem an altogether different world only a year later. (Much later (1983), Kinoshita shot studio rubble for “The Children of Nagasaki.”)


©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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