Like his earlier Walk Cheerfully, Dragnet Girl follows a gangster whose encounter with a good-hearted girl sets him on a road to righteousness. Former boxer Joji (Oka Joji) commands a gang of pickpockets and lives with his girlfriend Tokiko (Tanaka Kinuyo). Sales clerk Kazuko (Mizukubo Sumiko) implores Joji not to recruit her brother Hiroshi (Mitsui Hideo) so that he can study. Joji is so moved that he decides to change his ways. With its scenes of intimate cohabitation, smoky saloons and pool bars, Dragnet Girl is one of Ozu’s sultriest films, due in no small part to Tanaka Kinuyo’s performance as the titular woman, a gun-toting femme fatale with a day job as an office typist. The distinct eye of Ozu is already apparent in the film, which boasts a meticulous mise-en-scène and a tastefully scattered amount of close-up tracking shots that pull out to reveal deep-focus compositions. As is the case with Walk Cheerfully, the vague details of Joji and Tokiko’s misdeeds are overshadowed by their earnest desire for reform. The suggestion of their criminality is therefore imbued with a cultural double meaning, given that they are an unmarried couple living together—a rare image in an Ozu film.
Live musical accompaniment by Robert Humphreville.