I’m not sure how often I’ll do reviews on the site but I had to send up a quick flare after watching Mizoguchi’s The 47 Ronin on TCM. I was lucky to catch it. It’s nowhere to be found on amazon, bluray, or anywhere else right now (in fact i’m keeping it on dvr to watch again before i lose it).  Perhaps because it’s so hard to locate a copy of it’s also nowhere to be found on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They (great site here http://theyshootpictures.com/) composite top 1000 ranking. Even Rotten Tomatoes only has 3 total reviews.

It’s a 4 hour dialogue-heavy film where the film’s major action is told via a story in dialogue form rather than shown…. Sound exciting? Well it’s absolutely fantastic and surely one of the best films of 1941. After one viewing I have it behind only Citizen Kane from 1941 (which puts it ahead of other great films from Ford’s how green was my valley, Sturges’ sullivan’s travels, wyler’s the little foxes). Sturges’ the lady eve (quite a year for Preston) and huston’s the maltese falcon are too close to call right now.

Mizoguchi’s camerawork is superb. He floats through walls with complicated tracking shows and brings us into and out of scenes with some pretty complicated crane shots (some mirror gone with the wind and intolerance).  The dialogue is intelligent and the ending is very satisfying. Clearly the film is paced in such a way that it will be pretty unbearable to those who don’t enjoy cinematic style.

Here’s the most recent update of Mizoguchi’s archiveable films. I haven’t seen crucified lovers recently enough to give it a score but, clearly, a really an impressive auteur.

1936- Osaka Elegy HR
1936- Sisters of the Gion HR
1939- The Story of Late Chrysanthmums MS
1941- The 47 Ronin MS
1952- Life of Oharu MS
1953- Ugetsu MS
1954- Crucified Lovers
1954- Sansho the Baliff MS