Tokyo Chorus

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Tokyo Chorus
Directed by Yasujirō Ozu
Produced by Shochiku Kinema
Written by Komatsu Kitamura (adapation)
Kōgo Noda (scenario)
Starring Tokihiko Okada
Emiko Yagumo
Cinematography Hideo Shigehara
Distributed by Shochiku Company (1931, 1982, 2003)
Release dates
  • August 15, 1931 (1931-08-15)
Running time
90 min.
Country Japan
Language silent film
Japanese intertitles

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.[1] Most of the film takes place in Tokyo during a depression-like time in the beginning of the Shōwa period.

Plot[edit]

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. After receiving his bonus, Okajima writes out the list of presents he will buy for his family. A co-worker named Rou-Shain Yamada (Takeshi Sakamoto) is laid off because his last two clients died shortly after signing their policies. Upset for him Okajima gathers the other workers to go "protest at least once" to the boss but the others back down 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 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. 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, but they are forced to sell Sugako's kimono to pay the bill.

Still in need of work a well dressed Okajimo encounters 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 temporary job holding a banner and passing out flyers; the very job Douryou ended up with earlier in the film after he was fired. Okajima is disappointed as he feels it is beneath him; but takes it for his family. Sugako is distraught at the thought of her husband working such a degrading job, but decides to join them at the restaurant.

One day soon afterward, Sugako, Tsuma, Mr. and Mrs Omura (Choko Iida) are cooking up big plates of curry rice. Omura invites his schoolmates to the restaurant for a meeting. The class sits at the table and drinks happily. As they eat a letter arrives from the Ministry of Education; it is a notification of a job for Okajima, teaching English in a small rural town at a girls school. After discussing the matter, Okajima and his wife return to the dining room and the final student arrives "late as always". Everyone celebrates and breaks out into song.

Release[edit]

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.[2]

Cast[edit]

  • 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

References[edit]

External links[edit]