The Neighbor's Wife and Mine (1931)

Director
Heinosuke Gosho

Main cast
Kinuyo Tanaka; Atsushi Watanabe; Mitsuko Ichimura; Satoko Date; Shin'ichi Himori

Genres
Drama, Comedy

Description
Like Ernst Lubitsch, whom he studied, Gosho was an early experimenter in the narrative uses of sound (and silence). Japan’s first “all talkie,” this charming comedy lends itself to a natural use of sound. A playwright is distracted from his work by the din of a jazz band practicing next door. He goes over to complain but is totally disarmed by the lady of the house. The whole film plays on the presence of sound, from blaring horns and crying children to the duets our hero engages in with the neighbor’s wife to the dismay of his own spouse. The film also demonstrates the growing importance of Western influences to the Japanese. American jazz, modern French painting, and Western dress are treated positively, if comically. But nothing quite prepares one for the closing duet of husband and wife singing “My Blue Heaven” on their Sunday outing with the children. Look for Gosho’s signature use of brief, separate shots, another influence from abroad. —BAM/PFA


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