Wednesday, October 5, 2011

208. Ozu Film #28: Dragnet Girl (1933)

*28. Hijosen no onna (Dragnet Girl) (4/27/33) (100 min.) [Silent B&W [buy it here]
  • The DVD requires a region-free player.
  • Like Days of Youth, there is no soundtrack -- try and imagine the music (and the benshi).
  • The Shochiku logo is similar to what we've seen on our first three available films: a bas-relief with the Imperial crest and the date (1933).
  • The background for the credits is a modern-looking painting which is dominated by dark crescent shapes surrounded by a connect-the-dots matrix.
  • The very first shot is a stunner: a high crane shot down on a large empty concrete space. Two men, each with a long camera-facing shadow, walk left to right, while another solitary figure walks away from the camera.
  • Cut; POV out a window with wooden slats hanging down. Notice the stunning composition here -- the right side of the window is open and two windows of the opposite building are perfectly framed between the wooden slats and the open window! (Ozu will repeat this shot near the end of the film.)
  • The pillow shots here are striking:
    • Cut; two grandfather clocks (one reads almost 3:40, the other around 3:47), swinging pendulums, time cards on far right;
    • Cut; time cards and hats hanging on rack.
    • Cut; a wall clock (showing 3:33).
    • Cut back to the hats; a white one falls;
    • Cut to ground level shot of the hat;
    • Cut and then pan left to right right behind a row of female typists.
    • Cut back to hats (including the empty peg where the white had once hung), panning left to right...
    • Cut back to the previous pan of the typists.
  • The pan stops and holds on a typewriter with no typist. She enters the frame and
  • Reverse cut to a medium shot of Tokiko (Kinuyo Tanaka), checking out her work.
  • Swinging office doors (WBK); Okazaki (Yasuo Nanjo), the president's son, looking over the mail, asks about his father and then has his assistant call in Tokiko. He gives her a ruby ring...
    "What you do think that means?"
    "If it means that, I'll give it back to you."
  • Transition shots; door ("Private"), clock (4:15), door, two clocks; resume pan of typewriters, now being covered.
  • Wastebaskets, overflowing.
  • High crane shot, people leaving building (long shadows facing camera)
  • Interior, looking out a translucent window with Gothic iron work ... Tokiko walking away; she stops.
  • Is looking at herself in a store window (shot with camera facing her directly).
  • Cut, Okazaki standing on corner. "Join me for some tea."
  • As they exit frame, Ozu holds on scene.
  • Two men enter frame; stop.
  • Cut to their POV: Okazaki and Tokiko standing, talking.
  • After Okazaki departs, Tokiko is walking with the two men, one on each side. It turns out they know each other. They have tabbed Okazaki as a "sucker" until she tells them that he's her boss's son and she does not want to get fired.
  • The men run away suddenly; she crosses the street.
  • We see why the men ran; a policeman enters the frame. He follows her (camera at feet).
  • Cut; more pillow shots: scale, rings;
  • Cut medium shot of boxers; Hiroshi (Kôji Mitsui) moves towards camera, skipping rope.
  • Jyoji (Joji Oka) scene. Tokiko arrives.
  • Cut to pan from behind bass, drums. Dance hall.
  • "Who's coming to attack us?"
    • Senko (Yoshio Takayama) approaches the strangers and does a little dance.
      • (We will see him do it again in a moment, and later, at the gym.)
  • As he will continue to do, Ozu elides the actual fight entirely. Note the sequence:
    • The strangers follow Senko into the back room. They face him, ready to do damage, until Jyoji appears.
    • Senko (dance) waves in the rest of the gang.
    • Jyoji tells them to "see to Tokiko."
    • The gang pauses, astonished that he will fight one against three.
    • Ozu pulls the camera back, as all four men begin to take off their coats.
    • In a cute bit of business, Senko reenters the room just as Jyoji is throwing his coat to him -- which Senko catches and then turns around and leaves.
    • Ozu holds on the tense moment, facing the men about to fight.
    • But ... surprise ... Ozu cuts to follow Senko out of the room and back to the rest of the group in the dance hall.
  • And then, in a fine bit of silent film construction: - a quick axial cut to a medium-close shot of the group, all heads turning together;
  • Cut to another group; girls rising from their chairs, and their heads all turning simultaneously;
  • Cut back to the first group; all heads turn twice;
  • Cut to a third group; people rising;
  • Senko runs towards camera which is placed right behind the drummer; motions for them to play;
  • Couples flood the dance floor;
  • Cut to a POV behind the bar, profiles of Tokiko, Senko and his girlfriend. Tokiko:
    • "Only a cannon could knock out my Jyoji."
  • He returns, framed through two girls on left and right. Senko is ready with his coat; he is cool and collected.
    • "Give some water to the three punks."
  • Cut to the beaten punks, trying to regain their wits;
  • ECU on three glasses of water on a tray, dice in the foreground;
  • Senko goes off to deliver the water; Jyoji and Tokiko dance. Girls with yo-yos pass in front.
    • Pillows: Tea pot pan; door opens to Jyoji, Senko, Tokiko and Kazuko (Sumiko Mizukubo), Hiroshi's sister.
  • Senko returns with Hiroshi who wants to join.
  • Visits sis at record shop. (Nipper, the RCA dog business) ... borrows money.
  • Hiroshi playing billiards. Chalk. Fight. Broken up. More billiards.
  • Comes home to an angry, disappointed Kazuko.
  • Gym, Hiroshi talking with Senko. Someone to see Jyoji. He goes outside and meets Kazuko. To Hiroshi: "You have a visitor."
  • "You'll never make it in this racket," then punches him.

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