Takamine (left) and Taro Shoji (right)
Carmen Comes Home
The wedding of Matsuyama and Takamine
Tokyo Chorus (1931) From left to right, Tokihiko Okada, Hideo Sugawara and Hideko
(The movie follows the career of a schoolteacher named His...)
The movie follows the career of a schoolteacher named Hisako Ōishi (played by Hideko Takamine) in Shōdoshima during the rise and fall of Japanese ultra-nationalism in the beginning of the Shōwa period. The narrative begins in 1928 with the teacher's first class of first grade students and follows her through 1946.
(Keiko, a young widow, becomes a hostess in Ginza nightclu...)
Keiko, a young widow, becomes a hostess in Ginza nightclubs (mizu shōbai) to make ends meet. The story recounts the struggles to maintain her independence in a male-dominated society.
Hideko Takamine was a graduate of Bunka Gakuin (cultural school). Her first role was in the Shochiku studio's 1929 film Mother (Haha), which brought her tremendous popularity as a child actor. Soon she was billed as Japan's Shirley Temple.
After moving to the Toho studio in 1937, her dramatic roles in Kajirō Yamamoto's Tsuzurikata kyōshitsu and Uma brought her added fame as a girl star. Some of her film appearances from the 1930s and 1940s were lost during the Second World War when Japan's film archives were damaged by bombing and fires.
In 1950, she made what was considered a very daring move by breaking with the Japanese studio system, leaving the Shin Toho Studio and becoming a much sought-after freelance actress. Her films with directors Keisuke Kinoshita and Mikio Naruse during the 1950s and early 1960s made her Japan's top star. Her performance as a dedicated small town teacher observing her students' lives over several decades in Kinoshita's The Twenty-four Eyes (1954) is credited with that film's tremendous success and enduring popularity in Japan. Another powerful performance was as a tenant farmer's daughter in the 1961 film Immortal Love.
Takamine was especially favored by director Mikio Naruse, starring in a dozen of his films and portraying strong-willed, hardworking women struggling in poverty or lowly positions, and often held down by the traditional family system. Some examples include her roles as the tragic, love-struck heroine in Floating Clouds (1955) and an aging Ginza bar hostess desperate to escape her circumstances in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960).
She married director-writer Zenzo Matsuyama in 1955, but set a precedent by choosing not to give up her acting career. She made many of her most memorable films in the 1960s and retired from making movies in 1979.
After retiring as an actress, she published her autobiography and several essay collections. She died of lung cancer on 28 December 2010 at the age of 86.