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(SHITAMACHI) 1957, b/w., 59 min.; A Toho Film.

(Review from A Tribute to Toshiro Mifune: 40 Films Starring Japan's Greatest Actor)

Director: Yasuki Chiba. Screenplay: Ryozo Kasahara and Seiya Yoshida, from a story by Fumiko Hayashi. Photography: Rokuro Nishigaki. Music: Akira Ifukube. Co-stars: Isuzu Yamada, Haruo Tanaka, Jun Takara, Keiko Awaji.

In this modest, lovely film Mifune gives one of his most poignant performances. He plays a laborer, struggling to earn a living in the days just after the war, who takes up with another lonely survivor, a widow with a son. Despairing and disillusioned, the couple find hope only in each other. Their affection for one another kindles in them a spark of optimism until the laborer is suddenly killed in an accident, and the hapless widow is left on her own once again.

This short film beautifully captures the feeling of postwar Japanese life, as lived by common people attempting to build new lives for themselves. In Mifune's performance there is none of the ferocity or bravado so often associated with his roles in other films. Here he is seen as a simple, rather ordinary fellow, a character type he played often in the 1950s in films that are rarely seen outside Japan.

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