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The Record of a Tenement Gentleman
(Nagaya Shinshi Roku)

Screening on Film
Directed by Yasujiro Ozo.
With Tomio Aoki, Choko Iida, Reikichi Kawamura.
Japan, 1947, 35mm, black & white, 72 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.

A neglected Ozu masterpiece, The Record of a Tenement Gentleman has the ineffably sad, timeless quality of his best films. Set in bombed-out postwar Tokyo, the film charts the relationship between a stern, aging widow who does not like children and an abandoned child dumped in her lap. Exasperated by his gracelessness and bed-wetting, the woman becomes increasingly hostile and devises various ways to get rid of the child. Chishu Ryu has a delectable role as the peepshow proprietor turned astrologer who initially abandons the boy to the widow. Tender, humorous, and affecting, The Record of a Tenement Gentleman ends on a plangent note that suggests the scope of postwar Japan’s problem with neglected children.

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