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That Night’s Wife
(Sono yo no tsuma)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Okada Tokihiko, Yamamoto Togo, Yagumo Emiko.
Japan, 1930, 35mm, black & white, silent, 65 min.
Japanese intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

In this adaptation of the story “From Nine to Nine” by Oscar Schisgall, Ozu brings crime away from bars and hideouts and into the home. Desperate commercial artist Shuji (Okada Tokihiko) robs a bank to save his sick daughter Michiko (Ichimura Mitsuko). Detective Kagawa (Yamamoto Togo) trails Shuji to his home, but Shuji’s wife Mayumi (Yagumo Emiko) holds him hostage. The three strike a deal: Kagawa must stay until the night has passed. In the morning, he can take Shuji to jail. That Night’s Wife contains a number of Ozu’s signatures in prototypical form: the tracking shots crawling along a diagonal route foreshadow their replacement by diagonal wides; recurring close-ups of lamps and buckets of water will later be replaced by Ozu’s placement of objects in the foreground of frontal wide shots. The dichotomy Ozu constructs between the desolate city and the family’s cramped apartment heightens the film’s suspense. Much of That Night’s Wife takes place in the apartment—a technical challenge for Ozu, who toiled over the film’s continuity—making the outside world seem even more ominous.

Part of film series

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Ozu 120: The Complete Ozu Yasujiro