The next three films after That Night's Wife - The Revengeful Spirit of Eros, The Luck Which Touched the Leg and Young Miss - all appear to have been lost and so I pick up again with The Lady and the Beard. Unfortunately the only copy I had was the version currently on YouTube and so my notes come from watching a copy without sound and for which I could not read the intertitles. Admittedly I am not entirely sure of the details of the plot but since this exploration has been focused more on the formal aspects of Ozu, that "minor" inconvenience leaves me a little less concerned than it might normally.
Most evident was the sudden proliferation of the famous low-angle (tatami) shot. While I noticed a moment or two in previous Ozu films where he employed the shot, usually to emphasize a certain emotion, it now seems to have become Ozu's default camera placement, no matter at what point the story might be.
Other than the sudden emergence of the tatami shot, one of the key characteristics of style people would later associate with Ozu, not many other elements jumped out. I did notice a crane shot or two and a few tracking shots, which again, seem to disappear almost entirely in Ozu's later work. There is also again a prominent Western symbol, something that has shown up in almost every single one of Ozu's early works. Central in many frames this time it is a poster for a Laurel, Hardy, and Lionel Barrymore picture with a large quote in bold "All Talking" (we are in 1931 after all, the beginnings of the sound film). A couple of times as well Ozu cuts to a close-up of Abraham Lincoln.
Ozu is out of the gangster genre and back in somewhat more familiar territory. The film has a few signs of his characteristic playfulness. We are not yet, however, completely in the world of Ozu, where the takes are long, the rhythm slow and the style as refined as the cinema has ever known.
o/t: Todd Mason’s Overlooked A/V: the links to reviews, essays, discussions of film, television, live performance, podcasts and radio and more . . . - And another installment of Todd’s useful roundup of great movie and other a/v writing on the intertubes. Click HERE to be taken to Todd’s Sweet Freedom sit...
2 hours ago