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Dragnet Girl (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by  



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“Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.

Image courtesy of © 1933 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dragnet Girl (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas)

YEAR OF FILM: 1933

DURATION: 100 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Silent with optional score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015


Directed by Yasujiro Ozu

Screenplay by Tadao Ikeda

Story by James Maki (pen name for Yasujiro Ozu)

Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara

Edited by Kazuo Ishikawa, Minoru Kuribayashi

Art Direction by Yonekazu Wakita

Set Decoration by Takeshi Hoshino

Costume design by Kurenai Saitou


Starring:

Kinuyo Tanaka as Tokiko

Joji Oka as Jyoji

Sumiko Mizukubo as Kazuko

Koji Mitsui as Hiroshi

Yumeko Aizome as Misako

Yoshio Takayama as Senko

Koji Kaga as Misawa

Yasuo Nanjo as Okazaki


This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko. With effortlessly cool performances and visual inventiveness, Dragnet Girl is a bravura work from Yasujiro Ozu.


Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films “Walk Cheerfully” (1930), “That Night’s Wife” (1930) and “Dragnet Girl” (1933).

With his inspiration coming from Hollywood films, as there were films that combined gangster activity, pool playing and even boxing, all those elements can be seen in Ozu’s “Dragnet Girl” which was shot in 1933.

The film revolves around former boxer Jyoji (portrayed by Joji Oka).  Often at the boxing club to spot the latest talent, including rookie featherweight Hiroshi (portrayed by Hideo Matsui), he is often working with his secretary Tokiko (portrayed by Kinuyo Tanaka).

Often seen as the stylish right-hand gal for Jyoji, she quickly becomes jealous when she hears that Jyoji is spending a good amount of time with Kazuko, the nice and gentle sister of Hiroshi.  And her good nature makes Jyoji think about his own life.

Jealous…how far will Tokiko go to keep Jyoji and stop him from messing around with other women.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Dragnet Girl” is featured in 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The film is black and white and Eclipse series are films that do not receive the CRITERION COLLECTION restoration and remastering. Thus, the scratches and slight warping of the original film are very visible. The good news is that the film, despite being 82-years-old is still watchable and very enjoyable.  And of the three films, is in the best of shape.

As for audio, this is a silent film and you can listen to a piano-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series DVD’s unfortunately do not come with any special features. But with each DVD, there is a single page information (on the interior DVD cover which can be read since the DVD slim cases are clear) on the film.


With the third film featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, “Dragnet Girl” has a lot in common with the other two films but also the Hollywood gangster films that Ozu was enamored with.

Tthe recurring theme of criminals wanting to get out of the profession is common.  The recurring theme of a criminal changed by another woman outside of their world is common, but where Hollywood would take risks of showing a woman going so far to kill due to their jealousy (and we have seen this happen with many men), “Dragnet Girl” is fascinating in the fact that the jealous woman finds herself taking a liking to the good-natured woman as well.

Similar to “Walk Cheerfully” as the protagonist, a criminal wanting to make a change in their life for the better good, Ozu no doubt makes the viewer (especially during that era) feel that a life of crime doesn’t pay and there is always an escape.

But the obstacle in the film is that the main character, Jyoji, is being tied to that criminal world by the woman that loves him, but it’s the woman he really loves that makes him want to quit and that is the conundrum.

But leave it to Ozu to show that there is always a glimmer of hope, even for those who have committed crimes.

The film features a wonderful, early performance by actress Kinuyo Tanaka (“Sansho the Bailiff”, “Ugetsu”, “The Life of Oharu”, “The Ballad of Narayama”) as the character of Tokiko.  Tanaka gives viewers a glimpse of her ability to take on the face of a woman spurned, a woman committing crimes but also a woman that will do anything for the man she loves.

While the film is about Joji Oka’s character, Jyoji, it is Kinuyo Tanaka’s portrayal of Tokiko that is wonderfully performed!

Overall, “Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.






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