best film: Tokyo Story is known as Ozu’s masterpiece and righty so- but Ozu’s work was so consistent (and consistently brilliant) that he’s a body of work auteur—not an auteur that’s stature is built on by his/her masterpieces (like say Kubrick or Ridley Scott). Basically that just means that while Tokyo Story is Ozu’s best (and Ruy’s) Late Spring, Early Summer, and a half dozen others are right there. His two films with Kurosawa didn’t happen to be among Kurosawa’s masterpieces so they don’t contend here.

best performance: . Late Spring and there are two choices here because There Was a Father is gut-wrenchingly painful and Ryu is ever-so-good. In Late Spring Ryu is paired up Setsuko Hara. So this is the greatest of all Ozu female actresses paired with the greatest of all Ozu male actors (Ryu). Their relationship is incredibly complex—the characters so rich.

stylistic innovations/traits: In typical Ozu fashion Ryu is known for having the tremendous gift of subtlety. In countless scenes in great films throughout the Ozu oeuvre Ryu is hit with tough news, emotional situations, death, and tragedy and he underplays it. It’s fantastic acting that has aged so well. Ryu worked with Ozu in almost all of his films. In many of them he’s an extra or just shows up for a scene (A Story of Floating Weeds, Equinox Flower) but in others he’s an essential part of the ensemble (Tokyo Story) and still further in others he’s the lead or co-lead (Late Spring, There Was a Father). He could sing. He could play a man of 80 and then play a man of 40 the next year (in one occasion he’s Hara’s father and in another he’s an older brother). 21 films and counting (as I discover older works) in the archives. He has 245 IMDB credits as an actor.

directors worked with:   Ozu (18 films) and this is the crucial pairing.  2 films with Kurosawa

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Late Spring
  2. There Was a Father
  3. Tokyo Story
  4. Early Summer
  5. A Hen in the Wind

Archiveable films

1931- Tokyo Chorus
1932- I Was Born, But
1934- A Story of Floating Weeds
1936- The Only Son
1941- The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family
1942- There Was a Father
1947- Record of a Tenement Gentleman
1948- A Hen in the Wind
1949- Late Spring
1951- Early Summer
1952- Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice
1953- Tokyo Story
1956- Early Spring
1958- Equinox Flower
1958- Rickshaw Man
1959- Floating Weeds
1959- Good Morning
1960- Late Autumn
1962- An Autumn Afternoon
1965- Red Beard
1990- Dreams