Tokkan kozo

Silent . Black and White . 14 minutes

Shochikiu Kamata Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro
Noda Kogo
Ikeda Tadao
Okubo Tadamoto
("Nozu Chuji")


Nomura Ko


Saito Tatsuo (Bunkichi)
Aoki Tomio (Senbo)
Sakamoto Takeshi (boss)

A romp about a hapless crook who gets more than he's bargained for when he kidnaps a brat with an insatiable appetite for sweets. Unable to keep him under control, the kidnapper returns him to his father, who refuses to take him back. He tries to dump him on his playmates, but he incites them to demand toys and other goodies from him, making him run a mile.

Thoughts from Ozu
There was a child star in The Life of an Office Worker (Kaishain seikatsu) named Aoki Tomio who sometimes dozed off in the middle of a shoot. He was so much fun that I decided to make him the leading role in my next film. Since we had the incentive of drinking German beer from the advance for this film, everyone wanted to chip in to the script. "Nozu Chuji" the scriptwriter listed in the credits was a pen name derived from an anagram of our names: Noda Kogo, my name, Ikeda Tadao and Okubo Tadamoto. If I remember correctly, shooting was completed in three days.


The 12th film, shot in November 1929. Ozu remembered that he finished it in three days. The original story was written by Nozu Chuji, a pseudonym for four collaborators: Ozu himself, Noda Kogo, Okubo Tadamoto and Ikeda Tadao. According to Ozu and Noda, they planned to have plenty of German beer in a bar named "Fledermaus" in Higashi-Ginza. They got an advance from Kido Shiro, the head of the studio, with the promise to write a screenplay. While drinking and talking, they constructed the outlines of the story. Ikeda made it into a screenplay, and Ozu directed it in a short time. In other words, they completed this film quite leisurely. Focusing on the unique personality of Aoki Tomio, a child actor who also appeared in the preceding film, The Life of An Office Worker (Kaishain seikatsu, 1929),
this film's story (kidnappers abduct a child and get in trouble with him) is inspired by O'Henry's Ransom of Red Chief. Possibly Noda or Ikeda suggested O'Henry to Ozu. Inferring from the shooting time, this film might have been shot in and around Kamata, close to the studio. The location here is less important than in other Ozu films. Even Ozu was sometimes lax, at least in his younger days. Although this print is also blown up from a short version in 9.5mm like I Graduated, But..., it is closer to the original because it was originally a short film. According to Noda, in the missing first scene, the Central Meteorological Observatory of Tokyo and a spinning wind gauge is shown, then appears the insert title "Today, it is such a fine day for kidnapping." Saito Tatsuo appears at a long distance and vanishes immediately. Due to this film, Aoki Tomio was called "Tokkan Kozo" and became very popular. He was a regular member of Ozu's cast until the end of the war.

Personal Thoughts and Comments
The middle reels of this short are missing but 14 minutes have been recovered. It is a minor yet enjoyable light comedy that is well worth viewing if you are a fan of Ozu or his cast. Of course the cast is what is most interesting here, as all three leads played pivotal parts for Ozu throughout the silent era. The young boy is played by Aoki Tomio, who first starred in Ozu's previous (and now lost) film The Life of an Office Worker. Aoki became an Ozu-regular starring in such memorable silents as I Was Born, But..., Passing Fancy, and An Inn in Tokyo. Tatsuo Saito and Takeshi Sakamoto, who play the two unlucky kidnappers also starred in many more Ozu films both before and after this. Missing from the film is the portion in which the kidnappers unsuccessfully attempt to return the boy. There are some funny gags and the cast is strong enough to make what remains an enjoyable silent comedy.

Film Images

A clip from A Straightforward Boy