Entirely different from the other films in the section, Ten Dark Women directed by Ichikawa Kon and written by his wife, Natsuto Wada, is black comedy, spiced with a convoluted crime-drama plot, of the revenge of a group of women against a philanderer.
Spinelessly keeping nine mistresses, TV producer Kaze becomes paranoid-with ample reason-that his mistresses may join together in an attempt to kill him. Panicked by the possibility, he cunningly seeks help from his wife, who had long given up on him and finds pleasure in business. The shrewd wife, Futaba, plots against the mistresses, who are then caught up by their own mind games. What is most fascinating about this noir-ish social satire on lost human relationships in the media world is that this film presents a story of women’s weirdly exhilarating revenge on a man, very rarely depicted in Japanese films.
It is also a pleasure of cinema simply to watch ten “dark” women, portrayed by distinct actresses. The power and sophistication of the actresses makes this a film that engages the audience through their characters, and their acting. Among them are Yamamoto Fujiko, who plays the wife, one of the top billing actresses of the period, Kishi Keiko, another leading actress of the time known for her cool, intelligent beauty, and Kishida Kyoko, originally a stage actress known for her distinguished style and presence. When re-released recently, it engendered an interest in a new generation of younger viewers. (Saito Ayako)
Ichikawa KonIchikawa Kon
Born in 1915, Ichikawa Kon graduated from Tokyo University. After finishing technical school in Osaka in the 1930s, he got a job at the animation department of J.O. studios. He worked as an assistant to Akira Kurosawa at Toho Studios on films including Throne of Blood and Seven Samurai. Until 1955, He was known for his satires and screwball comedies and called “Japanese Frank Capra”. The cloud of Hiroshima barely lifted, Ichikawa’s cinematic response was one of absurdism and chaos on a world gone mad. His talent for comedy soon gave way to more composed and compassionate illustrations, notably with two very different anti-war films, The Burmese Harp(1956), now considered a classic of Japanese cinema, and Fires on the Plain(1959). His filmography includes Enjo(1958), Odd Obsession(1959), Alone on the Pacific(1963), An Actor’s Revenge(1963), and Tokyo Olympiad(1965).