Sunday, May 20, 2018


The world's a stage
in The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums

For (Director Kenji) Mizoguchi, the business of the artist is the conversion of life into the perfection and precision of art, and the business of cinema is both the conversion of life into art and the reverse conversion of art into the "living" vitality of cinema-Gerald Mast, A Short History of Movies

Synopsis: Kiku isn't that hot as an actor, though he gives it is best. It's tough having a famous actor father and trying to follow in his footsteps (see the career of John Wilkes Booth). However, the family won't come right out and say to him that his acting is really not too good. Otuku, the wet nurse for the family is the one person who levels to Kiku about his thespian deficiencies. Otuku is quickly forced to leave the family when it is discovered she let the cat out of the bag, but a grateful Kiku tracks her down and wishes to marry her largely because she's the only one that has been honest with him. (This situation reminds me of the time in Gomer Pyle, USMC, when Gomer Pyle is the only one to to tell pretty Lou Ann Poovie that she can't sing, and Luann eventually falls for Gomer for his honesty...but I digress.)

Otuku and Kiku eventually wind up together, but experience their share of problems...emotional and financial. The couple are forced to part...but Kiku rejoins his family troupe (with the secret intervention of Otuku) and becomes a good and respected Kabuki actor!

Kiku and Otuku are finally given permission to marry with the blessing of the family, only it is now too late. Otuku is about to die and Kiku's moment of artistic triumph is scarred by heartbreak.

A tragic story whose highlight to me is the inner working and turmoil of the traveling acting troupe. (See also In the Bleak Midwinter, Children of Paradise or The Seventh Seal or many versions of Hamlet for other films with acting troupe stories within the main story).

Lou Ann Poovie is shocked when Gomer Pyle
tells her she can't sing!

But she falls for the big lug anyway

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