a woman with a cigarette looks provocatively at a bearded man with a pipealr

The Lady and the Beard
(Shukujo to hige)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Ozu Yasujiro.
With Okada Tokihiko, Kawasaki Hiroko, Iida Choko.
Japan, 1931, 35mm, black & white, silent, 75 min.
Japanese intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Janus Films

Kendo player and churlish traditionalist Okajima (Okada Tokihiko) sports a prominent beard, as well as a kimono and a pair of geta. His appearance and beliefs not only scare off the women he encounters, but they also hinder his ability to find a job as an office worker. Only good girl Hiroko (Kawasaki Hiroko) can convince him to change his facial hair, giving him a makeover reminiscent of The Taming of the Shrew. Once styled in a more conventional manner, Okajima softens and enters the workforce. The character of Okajima is an early iteration of a sporadically recurring Ozu archetype: a young person whose espousal of traditional ideals challenges the conflation of youth and modernity. That The Lady and the Beard frames Okajima’s conservativism as a social problem to be solved by employment and upward mobility demonstrates the extent of Ozu’s liberal humanism, complicating the image of Ozu as a politically passive filmmaker.

Part of film series

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Ozu 120: The Complete Ozu Yasujiro