While at the Kiyoshi Atsumi festival at the Togeki I picked up a flyer for an upcoming program at the Laputa theater in Asagaya. As I skimmed through it, I noticed that Ruriko Asaoka seemed to be in all the pictures and yet her name was not mentioned in any of the synopses or cast listings. I shouldn’t have been surprised as I was when I flipped over the page and saw that there was no need to list her name everytime. It was, in fact, a Ruriko Asaoka festival.
Is there a greater madonna than Asaoka’s Lily in all the Tora-san films? Of course, that is rhetorical, but everyone knows there isn’t. If you don’t know, what them again. All four of the films she is in are some of the best in the series. I haven’t seen her in too many films outside of the Otoko wa Tsurai Yo series. So I hope to catch up on a few that are being shown this summer mornings at the Laputa.
All films start at 10:30 am and are screened just once day.
July 3d to July 9th
This 1960 film was directed by Eisuke Takizawa for Nikkatsu. Asaoka plays 16 year old Senko Tamagawa in a film that is the story of a poor, young countryside girl’s life, both her joys and tears.
でかんしょ風来坊 (Dekansho Furaibo)
July 10th to July 16th
This Nikkatsu action film costars Akira Kobayashi and was directed by Buichi Saito. The flyer for Laputa says the Akira-Ruriko combination is great.
どじょっこの歌 (Dojokko no Uta)
July 17th to July 23d
This 1961 film was also directed by Eisuke Takizawa for Nikkatsu, where Asaoka’s character is a young woman, orphaned during the war, who falls in love with the brother of the director of the hospital where she has been hospitalized for an illness.
憎いあﾝちくしょう (Nikui an’Chikushou)
I Hate But Love
July 24th to July 30th
Now this is one Asaoka film I have seen. This 1962 Nikkatsu film directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara co-stars another Showa-era favorite of mine, Yujiro Ishihara. Asaoka plays Yurjiro’s assistant and lover, who chases him across Japan when he tries to flee fame. Wikipedia says it is said that this is Japan’s first road movie, as Asaoka follows Yujiro has he runs away from Tokyo all the way to Kyushu while driving his trusty jeep.
July 31st to August 6th
This 1964 Nikkatsu film by Koreyoshi Kurahara was released as the office commemorative 100th film Asaoka made. is based on a novel about two childhood sweethearts from what is now known as Tottori who first meet in the 1930s and the trials she faces as they are separated due to the war.
夜明けのうた (Yoake no Uta)
August 7th to August 13th
Another Kurahara film, this 1965 film was built around a hit song that came out the previous year by Youko Kishi. about a young singer wanting to start a new life.
華やかな女豹 (Hayakana Mehyou)
August 14th to 20th
Laputa says Asaoka plays a glamorous woman dressed in the latest (late 60s) fashions in this 1969 film directed by Mio Eizaki about a hair designer who returns home from Paris after hearing about the death of her father, only to discover a sister she never knew existed.
愛の渇き (Ai no kawaki)
The Thirst for Love
August 21st to 27th
Unsurprisingly, this film has its own wikipedia page in English, as it is based on the novel of the same name by Yukio Mishima. Another Kurahara-Asaoka collaboration, this 1967 film follows a young widow’s affair with her father-in-law while becoming attracted to his manservant.
More information in English on a couple of the films listed above are in this review of a DVD release of Kurahara’s films