Sono yo no tsuma
Silent . Black and White . 65 minutes

Shochiku Kamata Studio

Written By

Noda Kogo
Oscar Shisgall (novel)


Mohara Hideo
Atsuta Yuharu


Okada Tokihiko (Hashizume Shuji)
Yagumo Emiko (Mayumi)
Ichimura Mitsuko (Michiko)
Yamamoto Togo (Detective Kagawa)
Saito Tatso (Doctor)
Ryu Chishu (Policeman)

To pay for his daughter Michiko's medical treatment, artist Hashizume Shuji breaks into an office. When the police arrive on the scene, he hops on a taxi, not realizing that the driver is undercover cop Kagawa. Meanwhile, the doctor tells Hashizume's wife Mayumi that if Michiko survives the night, the worst will be over. Kagawa appears to arrest Hashizume, but Mayumi takes her husband's gun and holds him captive, begging him to let her husband keep watch over Michiko for one night. The next morning, Mayumi tries to help her husband slip away, but he returns to turn himself in.

Thoughts from Ozu
The script came from a translated novel published in New Youth (Shin Seinen) Magazine. This is my first experience of working with Okada Tokihiko. Six of the film's seven reels depict action that takes place on a single set. I lost so much sleep over the continuity it was a labor of love, and had great significance for me. Kido Shiro was full of praise for it, and even urged me to go take a break at a hot spring.


The 16th film, shot from the end of May to the begging of July 1930. Based on the novel From Nine to Nine by Oscar Shisgall, which was published in the periodical New Young Men (Shin Seinen) in March. The story is very unusual for an Ozu film. The head of Kamata studio, Kido Shiro, first read the novel and recommended it to the screenplay-writer Noda Kogo for adaptation. In the original story, the robbery (by the husband) happens one week earlier then the other events. To make the film more suspenseful, Noda condensed the whole plot to one evening. Except for the first of the seven reels, in which the husband robs a bank and runs away, the entire film is psychological drama, set in an apartment. Ozu got the scenario and worked out the continuity. The result is a very detailed, dense drama, under the strong influence of modernism and westernized style. We have already spoken about the importance of the apartment. Ozu's tendency for westernization appears not only in his film, but also in his life. At this time Ozu wrote several articles, using Roman letters and loanwords (one of these articles "Strange Tales About Murder" ("Satsujin kidan") is published in Cahiers du Cinema Japon, no 9, 1993.) These quotations from the very modern style and similar examples can be seen in his films. Ozu's modernism films (the apartment films) are reminiscent of the writer Ryutani Yu and his novels of the same period, such as Mako. Mako is set in an apartment, and loanwords appear frequently in the text. Ozu's films have to be discussed not only in the cinematic context but also in the whole cultural context of that time. The young and healthy Ozu often insisted on filming all night. For this film, Ozu endlessly repeated his acting instructions for Yamamoto Togo. Once, the cameraman Mohara fell asleep and as he woke up in the morning, Yamamoto was still rehearsing the same scene. Ozu twice used an overlap transition in the reverse-angle shots of the apartment's door. Ozu did not like this technique, this is one of its rare uses. In 1952, Ikeda Koro remade this film. Ozu saw a preview and wrote in his diary: "it's troublesome."

Personal Thoughts and Comments
That Night's Wife is a unique film from Ozu in that it is a suspenseful crime thriller, yet it stands among one of his most interesting silent films in the way it emerges into a definitely Ozu film. The simple story centers around an artist who steals money and is chased down by a police detective. When the detective arrives at his home, he is held at gun point by the artists wife. The film is reminiscent of a Hollywood thriller, but the emotional and visual core is purely Ozu, particularly the way the film is concentrates in family and social troubles, as the penniless artists robs the money to pay for medicine for his sick daughter. That Night's Wife takes place almost entirely within the apartment, and the mood is effectively established as tense and claustrophobic. What truly makes the film definitive Ozu is the rhythm, captured by lyrical visual patterns. Here Ozu uses expressive tracking shots as visual patterns, as well as a specific use of hand expressions to heighten the atmosphere and suspense. Ozu flawlessly edits the visual patterns and motifs resulting in a film that is at once tense, stunning, and poetic. That Night's Wife is likely to be forgotten among Ozu's more emotionally-driven silent films, but it remains a truly fascinating work from the master.

Film Images

"Pillow Shots"
A clip from That Night's Wife