The Angry Street

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Dan Sallitt

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Jun 27, 2010, 2:21:48 PM6/27/10
to NaruseRetro, meke...@kerpan.com
A disappointment. The credits for the unsatisfactory script aren't
translated in the English subtitles, but Naruse seems to have co-
written with Motosada Nishiki, as was the case with two of Naruse's
other 1950 films, WHITE BEAST and WAR OF THE ROSES. Some sources give
a story credit to Fumio Niwa, a famous novelist whose book was adapted
for WAR OF THE ROSES; I can't determine whether a Niwa book was the
source material here. The film focuses on two students, Shigetaka
(Yasumi Hara) and Mori (Jûkichi Uno), who supplement their income by
fleecing naive women. The writing throughout is on message and
exaggerated, with the youngsters flaunting their depravities like
comic-book villains; when one of the two acquires a conscience and
switches with slight motivation from the Evil to the Good team, the
contrasting characterizations are as schematic as a "Goofus and
Gallant" strip. Naruse seems to be working in harmony with the simple
concept, allowing the actors to illustrate what may be intended as a
cautionary tale about the effects of the war on Japan's youth. The
camera work is fairly functional, in keeping with the opening credits'
evocation of neorealism or pseudodocumentary; Naruse rises to the
film's few action scenes with sharp, elliptical editing that makes one
wonder how he might have fared as a genre director. Uno brings an
interesting star quality to his unpromising role; 17-year-old Keiko
Kishi (Toyoda's SNOW COUNTRY), in her debut, steals the film as
Tagami, the designing woman who turns the tables on Shigetaka.
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