Stray Dog (1949, Japan, Kurosawa)
The same theft turns two war veterans in two different directions: One towards becoming a cop, the other to become a criminal. But they’re both in a sense similar, stray dogs burning up with anger and despair. Watched it all. In post-war Japanese movies you never see any sign of the American occupation forces, because of censorship. But in movies like this you do see how society was changing under their impact.
Fängelse / The Devil’s Wanton (1949, Sweden, Bergman)
If you were to make a parody of an Ingmar Bergman movie, it would probably be about a movie director who has long, philosophical discussions with his bohemian friends about life, the nature of evil, and the atom bomb. The parody wouldn’t be funny at all, and that would be the great joke. Watched: 16 minutes.
Mighty Joe Young (1949, USA, Schoedsack)
It pays off to pay attention to the credits. This one has Ray Harryhausen working on the special effects. Watched: 3 minutes, then fast-forwarded to see Harryhausen’s stop motion scenes, which are amazing. It looks like they were having fun thinking up creative ways for the stop motion gorilla (who has the face of a Wallace & Gromit character) to interact with the live action characters.
Døden er et kjærtegn (1949, Norway, Carlmar)
A car mechanic who talks like an old-timey radio announcer gets picked up by a married woman who also talks like an old-timey radio announcer. Their shared speech impediment becomes the basis for a dangerous romance. Watched: 28 minutes.
I love how Kurosawa managed to sneak critiques of American censorship past the censors.
Do you have any examples? I haven’t noticed anything, but perhaps it’s too subtle.
The most interesting Kurosawa movie with regard to the war is in my view The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail from 1945, which isn’t well known because it’s not at all up to his later movies. It was made right at the moment when the war ended, and it’s about a group of warriors who have been defeated, and encounter a guard post. And they must decide if they’re going to attack it, and die fighting honorably, or trick their way past it. They decide not to fight, because they realize that dying honorably in a pointless battle isn’t such a wonderful thing after all, and that’s how it ends.
It may be just me, but this seems to capture pretty well what happened in Japan at that moment. A shift in attitude. And the irony is that the movie was banned because the warriors happened to have a lord with them, and that represented dangerous feudal attitudes. The censors of the occupation government were not particularly clever, but then I guess censors rarely are.
The wiki page for DrunkenAngel goes into some detail about it:
I haven’t seen the film you reference but now I’m very curious about it. Too bad you didn’t enjoy Devil’s Wanton, but your point about it the Betgman parody is funny and poignant. I blogged about something similar not too long ago re: the same movie. How perfectly Bergmanesque was it that ehen the couple goes to the theater to see a comedy, it had the devil, a skeleton, and a giant spider? In Bergman’s world, those things are passed off as comedy.
Interesting. And while we’re on the topic: There’s a scene in Yasujiro Ozu’s 1947 movie Record of a Tenement Gentleman where it looks like he managed to slip through a sly reference to the occupation. A carpet or something has been hung up outdoors, and a boy goes out to beat on it. And the carpet kind of looks exactly like the American flag:
It isn’t really used to make a point, (at least not in the part I saw), but it made me laugh.