Monday, May 1, 2017

ANOTHER NIGHT AT THE FLICKS! Seeing Toho and Shochiku Classics!

Poster art promoting the "Into Nightmares" program at the Laputa Asagaya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I returned to the Laputa Asagaya for another fun evening of flicks. Tonight's double featured started with the Toho drama One's Longing (1961), directed by Seiji Maruyama. After that, the horror classic Goke Body Snatcher from Hell (1968) was screened. It should probably go without saying that it was a superb double feature.

My tickets for the evening! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

One's Longing was of particular interest to me due to the fact that it stars Yumi Shirakawa, my favorite actress. For most Japanese movie buffs, however, it's more notable for being one of the last films of Setsuko Hara before her sudden retirement in the early '60s. The movie tells the story of a love triangle between Shirakawa, Hara, and the object of their affections, Tatsuya Mihashi.

A poster for One's Longing hangs in the theater lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I mostly know director Maruyama from his war films, so this quiet drama was something of a revelation for me. There are some outdoor scenes in the woods that are simply gorgeous. It is very often a stunning film. We also get to see a different side of Yumi Shirakawa, who (at least in the films I've seen her in) usually plays mature and feminine women. Here, she plays a girlish (even impish) young lady, which in the context of this film makes a lot of sense, considering that Setsuko Hara was the older and more mature of the two actresses in the picture.

A poster for Goke Body Snatcher from Hell, also in the lobby. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

After One's Longing wrapped, there was a short break before Goke Body Snatcher from Hell screened. This was the second time I've seen the film screened in Japan, and I've enjoyed it immensely both times.

Promotional material for Goke. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

One funny thing to note. While I was waiting for One's Longing to start, the theater played a pre-recorded audio announcement for the Toho movie Mount Hakone (1962), to be screened next week. I thought to myself how much the voice sounded like that of Shinichi Yanagisawa, only to have the voice identify itself as being that of ... Shinichi Yanagisawa.

Promotional material for One's Longing. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

It was an amusing moment. In the recording, Yanagisawa-san discussed the cast and crew of the film and injected his brand of comedy into the announcement. I'll have to mention it to Yanagisawa-san the next time I see him.

More promotional material for One's Longing. Photo by Brett Homenick.

All in all, it was another enjoyable night at the movies. I'm very glad I caught both movies, and I'm already planning my next evening in Asagaya.

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