Lights of Night (Nishi Ginza eki-mae)Directed by Shohei Imamura.
With Frank Nagai, Masahiko Shimazu, Hisano Yamaoka.
Japan, 1958, 35mm, black & white, 52 min.
Print source: Japan Foundation
For his second film, Imamura was assigned by the studio Nikkatsu to direct this vehicle for singer-comedian Frank Nagai. The result is a comedy about a hen-pecked drugstore owner who spends his days reminiscing about a wartime romance in the tropics. Even in this studio exercise, Imamura uses the feminine and the pre-modern as markers of a soulfulness lacking in contemporary Japan.
This studio assignment finds Imamura venturing into the kind of realism he would later use as a launching pad for his own obsessions. The film is based on a true story, adapted from the diary by a real little girl of Korean descent, one of four siblings in a working-class family. When their father dies, the children are left to fend for themselves. While not a typical Imamura film, My Second Brother looks forward to the filmmaker's future investment in the vitality of the impoverished social outcasts.