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Mori, Masayuki

MORI, Masayuki



Nationality: Japanese. Born: Yukimitsu Arishima in Sapporo City, Hakkaido, 13 January 1911; son of the writer Takeo Arishima. Education: Attended Imperial University, Kyoto, to 1932. Family: Married Toshie Yoshida, 1946; sons: Takeo and Junkichi. Career: 1929–31—member of the Tsukiji Sho-gekijo theater group, and later worked with Teruko Nagaoko's Teatoro Comedia, 1932–36, the Bungaku-za theater group, 1937–44, and the Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo theater group Mingei, 1945; then freelance stage actor; 1942—film debut in Haha no chizu; 1950—international recognition for role in Rashomon. Awards: Japanese Kinema Jumpo Award for Best Actor, for Floating Clouds, 1955; also Mainichi Eiga Concourse Awards, 1947 and 1960. Died: Of cancer in Tokyo, 7 October 1973.


Films as Actor:

1942

Haha no chizu (Shimazu)

1943

Susume dokuritsu-ki (Kinugasa and Imai)

1944

Dengeki Shutsudo

1945

Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (Sanshiro Sugata; Judo Saga, Part II) (Kurosawa) (as Yoshima Dan); Toro-no-o o fumu otokotachi (Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail) (Kurosawa) (as Kamei)

1946

Asu o tsukuru hitobito (Those Who Make Tomorrow) (Kurosawa, Tamamoto, and Sekigawa)

1947

Anjo-ke no buto-kai (Yoshimura) (as eldest son)

1948

Kofuku no isu; Ware nakinurete; Jutai (Shibuya); Hakai (Apostasy) (Kinoshita)

1949

Waga shogai no kagayakeru hi (Yoshimura) (as ex-officer); Kyo ware ren-ai su; Guddobai (Shima); Dai-tokai no ushimitsu-doki; Chijin no ai (Kimura); Yabure-daiko (Kinoshita)

1950

Ma no ogon; Kazan-myaku; Rashomon (Kurosawa) (as Takehiro); Senka no hate; Tokyo no hiroin; Re-mizeraburu (two parts); Okusama ni goyojin

1951

Kyujo hiroba (Hisamatsu); Zemma (Kinoshita); Hakuchi (The Idiot) (Kurosawa) (as Myshkin); Nusumareta koi; Junpaku no yoru; Musashinofujin (Lady Musashino) (Mizoguchi) (as Tadao Akiyama); Tokyo hika

1952

Joobachi; Taki no Shiraito; Bijo to tozoku (Kimura); Anote konote

1953

Senba-zuru (Yoshimura); Yosei wa hana no nioi ga suru (Hisamatsu); Ugetsu monogatari (Ugetsu) (Mizoguchi) (as Genjuro); Saikai; Ani imoto (Naruse) (as older brother); Kani-ko sen (Yamamura); Asakusa monogatari; Koibumi (Tanaka)

1954

Moeru Shanhai; Aru onna (Toyoda) (as ship's captain); Ai Midori no nakama; Aku no tanoshisa

1955

Ukigumo (Floating Clouds) (Naruse); Yokihi (The Princess Yang Kwei-fei) (Mizoguchi) (as Emperor); Kokoru (Ichikawa) (as teacher); Yushima no shiraume (Kinugasa) (as Shuzo Sakai); Nyubo yo, eien nare (Tanaka)

1956

Fusen; Iro-zange; Ai wa furu hoshi no kanata ni; Ningen gyorai shutsugeki su

1957

Arakure (Naruse); Kyo no inochi; Banka (Gosho) (as Setsuo Katsuragi)

1958

Onna de arukoto (Kawashima); Shiroi akuma; Yoru no tsuzumi (Imai) (as drummer)

1959

Suzukake no sampomichi (Horikawa); Dai-san no shikaku; Fubuki to tomo ni keiyukinu; Onna-gokoro; Kotan no kuchibue (Naruse); Aru rakujitsu; Kizoku no kaidan; Yogiri no ketto

1960

Onna ga kaidan o noburu toku (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs) (Naruse) (as Nobuhiko); Mususme tsuma haha (Naruse); Gametsui yatsu (This Greedy Old Skin) (Chiba); Otouto (Her Brother) (Tchikawa) (as father); Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well) (Kurosawa) (as Iwabuchi)

1961

Onna wa yoru kesho-suru (Inoue); Tsuma to shite onnato shite (Naruse); Ai to honoo to (Challenge to Live) (Sugawa); Onna no kunsho (Yoshimura); Nyobo gakko; Shamisen to otobai (Shinoda)

1963

Bushido zankoku monogatari (Bushido) (Imai) (as Lord Hori); Taiheiyo hitoribotchi (Alone on the Pacific; My Enemy the Sea) (Ichikawa) (as father); Hikaru umi (Nakahira)

1964

Otoko-girai; Kikyo

1966

Haru ramman (Chiba); Kamo to negi

1967

Midaregumo (Scattered Clouds) (Naruse)

1968

Yamamoto Isoroku (Admiral Yamamoto) (Maruyama); Sogeki (Sun Above, Death Below) (Horikawa) (as Katakura)

1969

Hi mo tsuki (Through Days and Months) (Nakamura) (as father); Aa, kaigun (Gateway to Glory) (Murayama)

1970

Zatoichi: Abare Himatsuri (Misumi)

1972

Ken to hana


* * *

The Shingeki (modern theater) actor Masayuki Mori first impressed the Japanese film audience with his performance as the nihilistic son of an aristocratic family in Yoshimura's 1947 film, Anjo-ke no buto-kai. His intellectual and sophisticated characterization attracted critical attention, as well as establishing his career as a successful film star. His collaboration with Yoshimura continued through the 1950s: another of their masterpieces is Waga shogai no kagayakeru hi, in which Mori played an ex-officer with whom the heroine falls in love without knowing he has assassinated her father. The film vividly conveyed the confusing and disillusioned mood of postwar Japan, emphasized by Mori's skillful and explosively powerful performance.

He began to work with Kurosawa during the war, and Mori's international fame came when he played the husband in Rashomon. Despite the rather static acting style demanded by Mori's role (contrasting with the stormy performances of Mifune and Kyo), he projected an intensity at least equaling that of the more dramatic characters. As Myshkin in Kurosawa's adaptation of The Idiot, Mori created a character of sublime purity, enriched by his strong theater background. Especially skillful with his sense of timing and subtle expressions which made this almost nonhuman abstract character so convincing.

Of his several roles in Naruse's films, the most representative is that of the middle-aged man in Ukigumo. Mori played a disillusioned intellectual constantly betraying the heroine, who cannot leave him. This fatalistic character became incredibly rich and even sympathetic despite his negative aspects, as Mori created a sort of sincerity of the weak man in him. His achievement elicited an enthusiastic response from the critics and audience. For Mizoguchi, Mori portrayed the potter enchanted by the ghost princess in Ugetsu monogatari and the loving Emperor in Yokihi. The former role portrayed the extreme form of the doomed lover, contrasting with the calm style of the pure lover in the latter film. In both cases, Mori gave solid, well-rounded performances despite the director's harsh pursuit of realism.

In addition to the role of disillusioned intellectual, Mori was also admired as a romantic lover (Gosho's Banka), a simple but humanistic laborer (Naruse's Ani imoto), a poor Ainu man victimized by discrimination (Naruse's Kotan no kuchibue), and others in a wide range of melodrama, social drama, and comedy.

—Kyoko Hirano

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