|Directed by||Yasujirō Ozu|
|Produced by||Shochiku Kinema|
|Written by||Komatsu Kitamura (adapation)
Kōgo Noda (scenario)
|Distributed by||Shochiku Company (1931, 1982, 2003)|
|Running time||90 min.|
Tokyo Chorus (東京の合唱 Tokyo no kôrasu?) is a 1931 silent film produced by Shochiku Company, directed by Yasujirō Ozu and starring Tokihiko Okada and Emiko Yagumo. It was based on various stories in the Shoshimin-gai (Middle Class Avenue) series and also shares influences with King Vidor's The Crowd. Most of the film takes place in Tokyo during a depression-like time in the beginning of the Shōwa period.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2011)|
The story starts out with a group of young men attending school drills under the direction of Mr. Omura (Tatsuo Saito). Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada) is seen goofing off, misbehaving, and upsetting his teacher. After being disciplined the drills resume and the boys eventually graduate and go out into the working world. Okajima has grown up, now has a family, and works as an insurance salesman. On the day of their annual bonuses the men are all anxious. Okajima's son (Hideo Sugawara) has his heart set on a bicycle 'like all the other boys'. Okajima reluctantly promises to try and purchase the bike for his son as well as a gift for his daughter, Miyoko (Hideko Takamine), and something for 'Baby' (never named during the film).
After receiving his bonus (which he has yet to open due to his peeping coworkers), Okajima writes out the list of presents he will buy for his family he notices a worker across from him named Rou-Shain Yamada (Takeshi Sakamoto) is upset and he asks why. Yamada admits he is being let go due to his last two clients dying shortly after signing their policies. Upset for him Okajima gathers the other workers to go 'protest at least once' to the boss but everyone chickens out and one such worker (Isamu Yamaguchi) challenges Okajima to make the protest himself. Okajima takes the challenge. While in the office the boss is offended at the subject and the two begin a quite comedic fight. By the end of the fight Okajima is fired and bows as he leaves. He returns home with a scooter for his son, who is immediately disappointed and throws a tantrum. His wife Tsuma Sugako (Emiko Yaguma) returns from the market and tries to calm the boy while Choujo tells her what happened.
Sugako scolds her husband saying he should not lie to children. Okajima sits on the floor trying his best to not be upset. He eventually shows her his discharge notice and she tries to get her son to accept the scooter. Chounan refuses and Okajima says quietly that they should buy him a bike, which by the next scene they apparently have. Still looking for employment Okajima does his best to be pleasant. He sees his son playing with a group of boys and their bikes only to be told that Miyoko is sick with 'childhood diarrhea'. Upset he takes his son and rushes home to find it is true. Sugako informs him the Doctor wanted Miyoko to stay at the hospital but due to money concerns she waited. Okajima says he will make the money somehow and tells his son to summon a rickshaw to take them all to the hospital.
At the hospital Miyoko recovers apparently quickly. Sugako asks her husband again how they will pay for it and he says he will find a way. He takes his son and on piggyback they return home. The next day the whole family returns home. Okajima initiates his son and daughter in a hand-clapping styled game. Sugako goes to her dresser to find the drawers empty. She panics thinking they have been robbed. Okajima is unfazed and just smiles at her saying, "Thanks to your Kimono, our Miyoko is well again!", and continues playing. Sugako joins them as she and her husband share looks and she wipes away her tears. Still in need of work a well dressed Okajimo tries an Employment agency; which has no work for him. He walks away only to bump into his old teacher, Mr. Omura (Tatsuo Saito). Omura has quit teaching and now runs a restaurant called "The Calorie Café". It mainly serves curry rice. He offers Okajimo a job 'until he can find him a good one' which he swears he can. Okajimo insists he'll only take the job if it is out of friendship; not pity. He ends up taking the job.
After trying some of the food Okajimo is told his job will be holding a banner and passing out flyers; the very job Douryou ended up with earlier in the film after his firing. Okajimo is disappointed as he feels it is beneath him; but takes it for his family. The next day both he and Mr. Omura are carrying banners and handing out flyers. On the street car his wife and children spot him. Sugako is distraught at the thought of her husband working such a degrading job. She confronts him about it and he tells her he has no choice for the moment. She says she will work his next shift, as he shows her a blister he got from carrying the heavy banners.
The next day, Sugako, Tsuma, Mr. and Mrs Omura (Choko Iida) are cooking up big plates of curry rice. Omura took some of Okajimo's advice and invited all their schoolmates to the restaurant for a meeting. The class sits at the table and drinks happily. At 15 sen a plate the professor realizes he should charge and does; which the drunken crowd does not seem to mind. As they eat a letter arrives from the Ministry of Education. Omura opens it and calls Okajima in the kitchen. He shows Okajimo the letter which turns out to be a job for teaching English in a small rural town at a girls school. Omura leaves so Okajimo and Sugako can discuss the matter. After contemplating the matter they both agree there really is no other choice; and once some money is saved they can return to their home. The couple return to the dining room and the final student arrives 'late as always'. Everyone celebrates and breaks out into song.
The film was originally released in Japan in 1931. It did not see a US release until 1982. It was released in Japan on DVD as part of a box set from Shochiku Company in 2003. It was finally released with a new score by Donald Sosin on DVD in the US in 2008 via The Criterion Collection.
- Tokihiko Okada as Shinji Okajima
- Emiko Yagumo as Sugako, Shinji's wife
- Hideo Sugawara as their seven-year-old son
- Hideko Takamine as Miyoko, their daughter
- Tatsuo Saitō as Ōmura Sensei, a teacher
- Chōko Iida as Mrs Ōmura
- Takeshi Sakamoto as Yamada, an elderly employee
- Reikō Tani as the Company President
- Ken'ichi Miyajima as the President's secretary
- Kanji Kawara as the doctor
- Isamu Yamaguchi as Shinji's colleague