Silent . Black and White . 100 minutes

Shochiku Kamata Studio

Written By

Ozu Yasujiro ('James Maki')
Ikeda Tadao


Sugimoto Shojiro


Sakamoto Takeshi (Kihachi)
Fushimi Nobuko (Harue)
Ohikata Den (Jiro)
Iida Choko (Otome)
Tomio Aoki (Tomio)
Tani Reiko (Barber)
Ryu Chishu (Man of boat)


Kihachi Kimura lives a hand to mouth existence raising his son Tomio. One day he meets Harue, who has nowhere to go. Besotted with her, he gets his friend Otome to take her in. But Harue loves his fellow-worker Jiro. Kihachi goes off the rails until Tomio has a tantrum. Jihachi gives him a huge sum of pocket money, and Tomio gets critically ill gorging on snacks. Jiro and Harue confess their love. He gets a loan to pay for Toimio's treatment, and takes on a job in Hokkaido. When Kihachi finds out, he rushes to take his place, but starts to miss his son and jumps ship to get back to Tokyo.

Thoughts from Ozu
While I was growing up in Fukagawa, there was a good-natured lay-about who frequented our house. He became my model for Kihachi. Since Ikeda Tadao had also come across many suck fellows in Okachimachi, we delineated his character together. There's a scene in which Kihachi's son gets teased by his classmates because his father is always running off to flirt with a girl he fancies. When the boy comes home from school, he ruins Kihachi's favorite plant. When Kihachi returns all flustered after seeing his dream girl, his glee turns to anger, and he gives his son a good thrashing. The boy hits back and the two get into a big scuffle. Eventually, Kihachi cools down and so does his son, who then bursts into tears. If the negatives still exists, I'd love to watch that scene again.


he 30th film, shot from July to August of 1933. The film has the second title Record of a Tenement Gentleman First Story (Nagaya shinshiroku daiichi wa). After the completion of Dragnet Girl, Ozu wrote the screenplay for the film College is a Nice Place (Daigaku yai toko) with Arata Masao. This is a story about a group of students living in a student boarding house like in the good old days, but in a hopeless situation, having lost the happiness of youth of the former years. This story was considered as too poor in box-office value and was stored for later use (Ozu finished the film in 1936). In this situation, Ozu made Passing Fancy based on a screenplay by Ikeda Tadao. This film started the "Kihachi series" with the main character called Kihachi, played by Sakamoto Takeshi. The main characters live now in in tenement quarters in shitamachi, the old parts of Tokyo, where the spirit of the Edo era is still alive. In Ozu's work, this is a 180 degree turn. Ozu knows the old parts of town inside out. Born in 1903 in Fukagawa, a part of shitamachi, he moved to his father's hometown, Matsusaka in Mie prefecture, at the age of 9, but returned to Fukagawa at the age of 19. Ikeda Tadao too lived in Shitaya-Okachimachi in shitamachi. These were their everyday surroundings. The film is probably inspired by King Vidor's The Champ (1931), the story of an unsuccessful boxer and his comeback, mixed with a sentimental plot about a father and son. Posters of this film hang in the boxing gym of the previous Dragnet Girl. Ozu and Ikeda took the subject of a failed father and an honest son from this story and transferred it to their hometown shitamachi. The development from Dragnet Girl to Passing Fancy, as it appears in the continuation of the boxing elements, shows Ozu's conflict between modernism and internationalism on the one hand, and the shitamachi community and the internationalism on the other hand. This has an impact even on contemporary viewers, who at first sight might consider the story of Passing Fancy obsolete. Kihachi's self-sacrifice for Jiro and Harue (his decision to go to Hokkaido) seems to be influenced by John Ford's Three Bad Men (1926). The film ends with Kihachi jumping into the sea, but in the screenplay, the story continues until Kihachi reaches home and is welcomed by his friends. In the film, Ozu avoids the too simple happy ending. More importantly, Ozu criticizes a certain trend of the times, the unconscious impulse to return to the past.

Articles / Essays
Passing Fancy
by Michael Kerpan (Senses of Cinema)


Personal Thoughts and Comments
With Passing Fancy Ozu place a sense of heartwarming comedy amongst the setting of a Tokyo slum. In the most thoughtful and beautifully realized expression, Ozu captures the essence of a father-son relationship. The setting of this film was a change from Ozu's earliest work. While his previous films dealt more with subjects of youth and college, Passing Fancy became a transition into the working world. Passing Fancy was the first of an eventual thematic trilogy of sorts about Kihachi, a stubborn everyday man with a good heart. In these films (which also include A Story of Floating Weeds and An Inn in Tokyo), Kihachi is played by Ozu-regular Takeshi Sakamoto. Through Ozu's open, unpredictable, and simplistic narrative style, as well as Sakamoto's incredible performance, a deeply complex emotional texture is revealed within this character as well as his son (who is played with equal brilliance by Tomio Aoki). The film opens with a remarkable sequence that details Ozu's mastery of comedy and visual expression. Passing Fancy is a masterpiece of silent cinema, and a film that stands among the most pivotal of all Ozu's work.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
The opening moments from Passing Fancy
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