Nationality: Japanese. Born: Shiga Prefecture, 9 September 1911; also known as Kimisaburo Yoshimura. Education: Nihon High School, Tokyo, graduated 1929. Family: Married Tomoko Oouchi, 1940. Career: Assistant director to Yasujiro Shimazu at Shochiku-Kamata Studio, 1929; drafted into military, 1932; after return from service, directed first film, Sneaking, 1934; assistant director to Shimazu, Heinosuke Gosho, Dhiro Toyota, and Mikio Naruse, 1934–39; moved to newly established Shochiku-Ofuna studios, 1936; resumed directing, 1939; served in machine gun unit, then as information officer on general staff, 1944; repatriated, spent year in prison and repatriation camp, 1945; began collaboration with scriptwriter Kaneto Shindo, 1947; founded independent production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai (Society of Modern Film), with Shindo, producer Hisao Itoya, director Tengo Yamada, and actor Taiji Tonoyama, 1950; contracted by Daiei Studio, 1956; TV director, 1960. Awards: Eiga Seikai-sha New Director's Prize, for Danryo, 1939; Kinema Jumpo Number One Film, for Anjo-ke no bukokai, 1947; Mainichi Director's Prize, for Itsureru seiso, 1951; Shiju-Hosho Decoration, Japanese Government, 1976. Address: 4–3-37 Zushi, Zushi City, Kanagawa, Japan.
Films as Director:
Nukiashi sashiashi (Sneaking)
Onna koso ie o momore (Women Defend the Home!; WomenShould Stay at Home); Yokina uramachi (Cheerful Alley; Gay Back Alley); Asu no odoriko (Dancers of Tomorrow); Gonin no kyodai (Five Brothers and Sisters); Danryu (Warm Current)
Nishizumi sanshacho den (The Story of Tank CommanderNishizumi)
Kancho mada shinazu (The Spy Has Not Yet Died) (+ story); Minami ni kaze (South Wind); Zoko minami no kaze (SouthWind: Sequel)
Laisen no zenya (The Night before the War Begins); Tekkikushu (Enemy Air Attack)
Kessen (A Decisive Battle)
Zo o kutta renchu (The Fellows Who Ate the Elephant); Anjoke no butokai (The Ball of the Anjo Family)
Yuwaku (Temptation; Seduction); Waga shogai no kagayakeruhi (The Bright Day of My Life)
Shitto (Jealousy); Mori no Ishimatsu (Ishimatsu of the Forest; Ishimatsu of Mori); Mahiru no enbukyoku (Waltz at Noon)
Shunsetsu (Spring Snow); Senka no hate (The Height ofBattle; The End of Battle Fire)
Itsuwareru seiso (Deceiving Costume); Jiyu gakko (FreeSchool); Genji monogatari (A Tale of Genji)
Nishijin no shimai (Sisters of Nishijin); Boryoku (Violence)
Senba-zuru (A Thousand Cranes); Yokubo (Desire); Yoakemae (Before the Dawn)
Ashizuri misaki (Cape Ashizuri); Wakai hitotachi (YoungPeople)
"Hanauri musume" (The Flower Girl, The Girl Who Sells Flowers), episode of Aisureba koso (If You Love Me; Because I Love); Ginza no onna (Women of the Ginza); Bijoto kairyu (The Beauty and the Dragon)
Totsugu hi (Day of Marriage; The Day to Wed); Yoru no kawa (Night River; Undercurrent); Yonjuhassai no teiko (48-Year-Old Rebel; Protest at 48 Years Old)
Osaka monogatari (An Osaka Story); Yoru no cho (NightButterfly); Chijo (On the Earth)
Hitotsubu no mugi (One Grain of Barley); Yoru no sugao (TheNaked Face of Night)
Denwa wa yugata ni naru (Telephone Rings in the Evening); Kizoku no kaidan (Aristocrat's Stairs)
"Koi o wasureta onna" (A Woman's Testament, The Woman Who Forgot Love), episode of Jokei (Women's Scroll); Onna no saka (Woman's Descent)
Konki (Marriage Time); Onna no kunsho (Woman's Decoration)
Kazoku no jijo (A Night to Remember; Family's Situation); Sono yo wa wasurenai (I Won't Forget That Night)
"Shayo nigo" (Company's Business), episode of Echizentake ningyo (Bamboo Doll of Echizen)
Kokoro no sanmyaku (The Heart of the Mountains)
Daraku suru onna (A Fallen Woman)
Nemureru bijo (Sleeping Beauty; The House of the SleepingVirgins); Atsui yoru (A Hot Night)
Amai himitsu (Sweet Secret)
Konketsuji Rika (Rika, the Mixed-Blood Girl); Hamagure nokomoriuta (Lullaby of Hamagure)
Ranru no hata (Ragged Flag)
By YOSHIMURA: book—
Eiga no gijutsu to mikata [Film Technique and How to Look at Films], 1952.
On YOSHIMURA: books—
Mellen, Joan, Voices from the Japanese Cinema, New York, 1975.
Mellen, Joan, The Waves at Genji's Door, New York, 1976.
Anderson, Joseph, and Donald Richie, The Japanese Film, expanded edition, Princeton, 1982.
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Although Kozaburo Yoshimura's early work followed the drama and comedy conventions of the Shochiku Studio productions of the 1930s, he gradually proved himself an ambitious artist who broke away from these conventions through his varied selections of themes and subjects, and his bold exploration of styles. His technical maturity has been consistent over the years and through all genres, from the melodramatic Warm Current, which first brought Yoshimura recognition, through the wartime production The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi, which successfully portrayed the decent, human side of the war hero with exciting action scenes, to the patriotic spy film The Night before the War Begins, which stylistically resembles an American suspense film.
The postwar liberation allowed him to employ more freely his favorite American film styles and techniques. Typical of this period is The Ball of the Anjo Family, which surprised the Japanese postwar audience not only with its fresh techniques, but also with its striking theme of the contrasts between the falling and emerging social classes of the time.
The challenges of the varied subjects of Yoshimura's subsequent films confirmed his energy and versatility, as in The Bright Day of My Life, which illustrated a flamingly passionate love unusual to Japanese films, between a couple who had belonged to opposing political groups before the war. Ishimatsu of Mori is regarded as one of the first successful postwar period films. From the familiar legend, Yoshimura made a satirical comedy which alludes critically to the contemporary gangster's mentality. Deceiving Costume, a postwar adaption of Mizogushi's prewar masterpiece Sisters of the Gion, demonstrated a similar emotional intensity and powerful social criticism through its story of the life of geisha sisters. The Beauty and the Dragon is a new adaptation of a popular Kabuki play, made with the assistance of the innovative theater troupe Zenshin-za.
Scenario writer Kaneto Shindo's collaboration with Yoshimura was indispensable to Yoshimura's success, from The Ball of the Anjo Family to The Day to Wed, during which time they produced twenty-two films together. When in 1950 Shochiku Studio subjected the pair to commercial pressures, they decided to establish an independent production company, Kindai Eiga Kyokai, or Society of Modern Film. It enabled the two to pursue their artistic experimentation and thus produce many masterpieces which attracted critical attention.
Yoshimura became well known for literary adaptations—A Tale of Genji, A Thousand Cranes, Before the Dawn, Sleeping Beauty, and Cape Ashizuri—as well as for light comedy—Free School, about contemporary social life, Desire, Young People, and One Grain of Barley, among others. Particularly noteworthy is a series of films on the life of contemporary women using many of Daiei Studio's prime actresses, Night River, Night Butterfly, Naked Face of Night, and others. He has continued his independent efforts, notably with Heart of the Mountains and Ragged Flag, which powerfully depicts the life of a pioneering opponent of pollution in Japan in the early years of this century.
Yoshimura has consistently shown excellent story-developing skill, which has won popular support for his films. His best films often contain social criticism, but at the same time do not preach, relying instead on the depiction of heightened emotions among the characters to successfully appeal to the audience.