|6:30 p.m.||Singing Lovebirds|
Masahiro Makino (Japan, 1939)
(Oshidori uta gassen). One of the real discoveries of the Nikkatsu retrospective, this effortless, light-hearted romantic musical—yes, musical!—from the criminally underrated director Masahiro Makino offers up many pleasures, including witnessing longtime Kurosawa veteran Takashi Shimura crooning out several numbers. Sweet and pretty Oharu helps her father make umbrellas, but her heart truly swoons for kindly ronin Reisaburo (Chiezo Kataoka), a man who’s busy fending off the attentions of a vain rich lass. Add in a meddling lord, a none-too-honest antiques seller, and several peppy song numbers later, and you have one of the most inventive, charming, unique musicals you’re ever likely to see. A true delight, and shot with Makino’s typical light touch and flair for movement. Surprisingly, it only came about after Kataoka’s illness forced the postponement of another film; Makino used the cast, crew, and sets from that work to shoot Lovebirds in only two weeks. Once Kataoka recovered, he filmed his scenes within hours; Makino wrapped it, then everyone promptly resumed work on the other film.
• Written by Koji Edogawa. Photographed by Akira Mimura, Kazuo Miyagawa. With Chiezo Kataoka, Takashi Shimura, Haruyo Ichikawa, Dick Mine. (69 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, permission Nikkatsu)