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

April 12, 2015 by  


“Walk Cheerfully” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.  And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

Image courtesy of © 1930 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

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


DURATION: 96 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

Screenplay by Tadao Ikeda

Story by Hiroshi Shimizu

Cinematography by Hideo Shigehara

Edited by Hideo Shigehara

Set Decoration by Hiroshi Mizutani


Minoru Takada as Kenji Koyama

Satoko Date as Chieko

Hiroko Kawasaki as Yasue Sugimoto

Nobuko Matsuzono as Yasue’s Sister

Teruo Mori as Gunpei

Takeshi Sakamoto as Ono, the Company President

Utako Suzuki as The Mother

Hisao Yoshitani as Senko

In Yasujiro Ozu’s Walk Cheerfully, which gracefully combines elements of the relationship drama and the gangster story, small-time hood Kenji, a.k.a. Ken the Knife, wants to go straight for good girl Yasue but finds that starting over isn’t as simple as it sounds. This was the Japanese master’s first true homage to American crime movies, and it is a fleetly told, expressively shot work of humor and emotional depth.

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 14th film “Hogaraka ni ayume” (Walk Cheerfuly) revolves around Kenji Koyama (portrayed by Minoru Takada), also known as “Ken the Knife”, who runs a group of thieves.

While accompanying his right hand man Senko (portrayed by Hisao Yoshitani), he is captivated by Yasue (portrayed by Hiroko Kawasaki), a woman he sees walking to a jewelry store and assumes that she is wealthy.

In truth, Yasue is poor and works hard to pay the bills to take care of her mother and her younger sister.  She hates working for her boss, because each time she is alone in his office, he sexually harasses her, often blocking the exit way, so she can leave the office.

As Ken tries to pretend he is wealthy and tries to learn how to play golf, during a drive with one of his thieves, they nearly run over a young girl.  The girl turns out to be Yasue’s younger sister and Kenji comes to their rescue.

This is the beginning of Ken and Yasue’s relationship as he learns that she is not wealthy but he loves spending every moment with her.

But when Chieko (portrayed by Satoko Date), one of the female thieves becomes jealous of Kenji going after Yasue, she tries to tell her the truth that Kenji is a gangster and that he is using her.

She finds out that Chieko is telling the truth and for Ken, the thought of not being with Yasue hurts him.  Enough for him to want to change his lifestyle and be a man that plays by the rules.

But can this former criminal escape from his past?


“Walk Cheerfully” 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.

It was very interesting to watch an Ozu silent that revolves around a group of criminals but the film is not so far removed from the Japanese family struggles that he tended to depict in his earlier films.

“Walk Cheerfully” is no doubt a story about a man who wants to change his life, get away from crime and do all he can in order to make the girl he loves, respect him.

We see the transformation that the character Ken goes through as being a cold thief to a man with integrity.

A mix of comedy, romance and drama, “Walk Cheerfully” is an easy film to watch because of its characters but you can’t help but root for Ken and his willingness to change for Yasue.  You also want to see Yasue happy because you realized that she came from a poor family and has done all she can to take care of the family and help make ends meet.

Actor Minoru Takada does a great job at playing Ken, but he also becomes a male actor that you eventually see more and more in an Ozu film.  Actress Hiroko Kawasaki also shines as the character Yasue, a character that has to play a wide range of emotions but you also can’t help wanting to see more of her, because she brings vibrancy and innocence to the film.

Overall, “Walk Cheerfully” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”.

And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

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