Anma to onna / The Masseur and a Woman

Anma to onna / Masseurs and the Woman (1938)

No, the masseurs is not a midget in the movie

Director: Shimizu Hiroshi
Writers: Shimizu Hiroshi
Date: 1938

Genre: Comedy
Description: Blindness, real sight, whodunnit, running away, friendship, theft, small town characters

Cast: Takamine Mieko, Tokudaiji Shin, Himori Shinichi, Bakudan-kozo, Saburi Shin, Sakamoto Takeshi, Miura Mitsuko

Crew of note:

Runtime: 66 mins.
Color: BW
Trivia: Has a 2008 remake, Yama no anata

Two blind masseurs, Toku and Fuku, go to a resort town for work. A relationship form between Toku and one of his patrons, the beautiful but mysterious Michiho. A host of different characters are present, such as Shintaro and his restless son Kenichi, a group of hiking students, and other patrons among the inns. Confusion ensues, however when thefts begin to break out, and everyone becomes a suspect. Though they can’t see a thing, it becomes immediately obvious that the blind masseurs can see a lot more despite their eyes.

A very light and amusing comedy about blind masseurs and their interaction with people in a small onsen town. Really great performance by Tokudaiji–he really does seem blind, and his comic timing with his clumsiness is perfect. perhaps too perfect. It really makes you wonder; is he blind, or is he the only one who knows what’s going on?

Though there doesn’t seem to be anything pushing the story along, aside from the minor whodunnit, Shimizu is able to use his blind characters as a mirror for other characters, perhaps humanity if you want to read into it too much. The banter between Toku and Fuku is wonderful, and their comments and suggestions throughout the movie are delightful. It’s difficult to imagine a more memorable pair of blind masseurs.

At only 66 minutes, it is easy to say that the movie is too short, but it isn’t. Every minute runs like poetry; shots could be more than just pictures and words could be more than just what they mean. There is a reason Ozu claims that he cannot shoot movies like Shimizu, and this movie is a great place to start enjoying his work.

A must watch for fans of comedies with layers of depth and introspection. Enjoyable, light, and short.. there’s no reason not to watch this. Unless you’re allergic to black and white. It’s a disservice to discuss this movie at length, because it really has to be seen to be understood.

things to take note of
The sliding/gliding camera
The blindness?
Toku’s face

best moment
The very first long scene on the road up the hill

why you should watch this
One of the most intelligent and meaningful comedies from the 30s. Shimizu certainly was more cheery than his contemporaries..

rating: 8.4

Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B
Music: B
Entertainment: B+

similar movies, maybe:
Kanzashi / Ornamental Hairpin