By day sweet-faced Tokiko (Tanaka Kinuyo) is an ordinary typist but come nightfall she’s a fun-loving gangster’s moll. This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji (Joji Oka), a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko (Sumiko Mizukubo), the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji’s otherwise patient moll, Tokiko.
A deviant message by Ozu on the influence of American gangster films is spelled out, literally, in the movie posters, signs, and handbills that paper the sets, as well as in the pulsing spectacle of jazz bands, dance halls, boxing gyms, fedoras, pin-stripe suits, and bias-cut evening gowns. Ozu both acknowledges his own debt to Hollywood and suggests the way his characters’ lives, their hearts and minds, have been infiltrated by western pop culture.
Dazzlingly stylized, spirited and kinetic, Dragnet Girl is also an intimate, compassionate study of young people caught in the cultural cross fire. For all its snappy and whimsical homages to Warner Brothers gangster flicks, this is still an Ozu film, ending not with gunshots or kisses but with a still life in an empty room.
Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Starring: Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo
Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
Special intro by Dr Mark Bould (Associate Professor of Film and Literature at UWE)