That Night’s Wife (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
April 12, 2015 by Dennis Amith
This film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”. It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured. Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.
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TITLE: That Night’s Wife (from the Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas)
YEAR OF FILM: 1930
DURATION: 65 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Silent with piano score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio
COMPANY: The Criterion Collection
RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Written by Kogo Noda
Novel by Oscar Shisgall
Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara
Costume Design by Ko Saito
Set Decoration by Ryonosuke Akita, Kojiro Kawasaki and Yoneichi Wakita
Tokihiko Okada as Shuji Hashizume, Husband
Emiko Yagumo as Mayumi, Wife
Mitsuko Ichimura as Michiko, Daughter
Chishu Ryu as Policeman
Tatsuo Saito as Suda, Doctor
Togo Yamamoto as Detective Kagawa
In noirish darkness, a man commits a shocking robbery. But, as we soon learn, this seeming criminal mastermind is actually a sensitive everyman driven to desperation by the need to provide for his family. Unfolding over the course of one night, Yasujiro Ozu’s That Night’s Wife combines suspense with the emotional domestic drama one associates with the filmmaker’s later masterpieces, and employs beautifully evocative camera work.
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).
His film “Sono yo no tsuma” (That Night’s Wife) is the shortest of this crime dramas and is a film adaptation of a novel by Oscar Shisgall. It also has a more darker storyline compared to the other two crime dramas.
“That Night’s Wife” begins with a man committing a robbery at a nearby office. He beats and ties up everyone in the office and leaves with bags of cash.
As the police are on the lookout for this criminal, when he gets home, we realize that at home, he is hardly a thug.
The criminal is Shuji Hashizume (portrayed by Tokihiko Okada), a married man and loving husband to Mayumi (portrayed by Emiko Yagamo) and has a child named Michiko (portrayed by Mitsuko Ichimura) who is very ill.
The reason why Shuji has been stealing money is primarily for his daughter as he doesn’t have any money to pay for medicine or a doctor. And she is so ill, that she may not survive the night.
He doesn’t like the fact that he has to steal to pay for his daughters doctor bills but he has no choice.
But when the police detective Kagawa (portrayed by Togo Yamamoto) pays a visit to their home in order to capture him, the detective realizes the criminal’s true intention, but does that pardon him from the crimes that he has done?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“That Night’s Wife” 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 85-years-old is still watchable and very enjoyable.
As for audio, this is a silent film and you can listen to a piano-driven soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English.
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.
Watching “That Night’s Wife”, it does have a banal theme of a man driven by bad luck of his daughter’s ill health and now must steal to pay for her doctor’s bills.
While the storyline has been done and redone over again, “That Night’s Wife” is much different in the fact that you get this back-and-forth between characters, not knowing how this film is gong to end.
There is no doubt a message in the film of how crime doesn’t pay but this is a film that tries to have the viewer put themselves in the shoes of the criminal. How far would you go for your sick child who may die any minute?
In this case, Shuji and also his wife, will do all they can to protect their family.
But as mentioned, it’s rather interesting to see how the three actors, Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto interact with each other through the back-and-forth scenes of who will outbest who.
Also, the film shot primarily in the family’s home and so, it’s very interesting to see how Ozu was able to capture the plight of each individual in such cramped quarters.
Once again, this film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”. It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured.
Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.
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