(Hijosen no onna)

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu. Japan. 1933.

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Dragnet Girl, a 1933 silent film by the great Yasujiro Ozu, pays tribute to the Western gangster films of the 30s such as Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, and Scarface. The story, about a young typist who will stop at nothing to have her gangster boyfriend go legit is credited to James Maki, an Ozu pseudonym, and the screenplay is attributed to Tadeo Ikeda who wrote Floating Weeds. The film stars a young Kinuyo Tanaka who was to achieve fame in later Mizoguchi films including The Life of Oharu. Dragnet Girl develops considerable tension in showing the relationship of four people: the gangster Joji (Joji Oka) and his girl friend Tokiko (Tanaka), Hiroshi (Hideo Mitsui), a boxer and hoodlum wannabe and his attractive sister Kazuko (Sumiko Mizakubo). 

Both women want to save their men from a life of crime. Kazuko wants to rescue Hiroshi from Joji's inner circle but ends up falling in love with Joji herself. Tokiko jealously decides to kill Kazuko but ends up falling for her considerable charms. She then pleads with Joji to give up his way of life and go away with her to begin a new life. When Hiroshi steals his sister's money, however, he enlists Joji and Tokiko in committing one last crime to pay her back. The crime and its surprising consequences take up about the last quarter of this very entertaining and highly dramatic film.

Howard Schumann
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