Straightforward Boy (1929) Poster

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Ozu re-discovery (unavoidable spoilers)
kerpan22 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"Tokkan kozo" (a charging-ahead boy) is the earliest Ozu I've seen yet. Only one older film directed by him still exists. This one was believed lost until 1990 or so, when the first and last reels of this 4-reel "nonsense comedy" were re-discovered. This is an adaptation of O. Henry's "Ransom of Red Chief". It stars a diminutive bespectacled Tomio Aoki (the little brother from "I Was Born But" -- a couple of years later) as the unmanageable and ultimately unwanted kidnap victim and Tatsuo Saito (the father from IWBB) and Takeshi Sakamoto (Aoki's father in "Passing Fancy" and "Tokyo Inn", also from the 30s) as the hapless kidnappers. One assumes that this film was inspired by the "Little Rascals" films -- and (except for the clothing -- and the comparatively sophisticated direction and cinematography) looks like the American exemplars -- especially the end which features a batch of our young hero's friends. Nothing profound here, but good fun -- despite the missing middle (wherein our kidnappers try unsuccessfully to return their "visitor").
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Introducing Japan's Dennis the Menace
alsolikelife13 December 2003
Takeshi Sakamoto and Tatsuo Saito are two bumbling child kidnappers (Sakamoto carries a butterfly net if that gives you an idea of his skill level) who abduct a boy (Tomio Aoki, Japan's Dennis the Menace) who turns out to be more than they bargained for. Pieces of this slapstick crime caper based on O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" are missing throughout, but it still plays coherently and has its share of hilarious moments.
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Once Upon a Time in the West
tedg27 June 2006
This is an unremarkable adventure until its provenance seeps in. It is extremely well made in all respects, and that's rare enough in that era. And its remarkably western in all its dramatic values, which is quite a shock when you know that Kurosawa was ignored in Japan for being too "Western." Yes, there's some noticeable Kabuki style acting, especially when a comedy sequence is immanent, and when the kidnapper reacts. But it far less pronounced than in nearly any other Japanese film I've seen up to the current period where stylish violence is the basis. But then even the vacant hero's stare is from No.

This is effective, but more than that it is shocking, so western. But this was before the three great Asian wars of the 20th century.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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silly early Ozu short
framptonhollis31 August 2018
With a fast pace and quick runtime, this short early Ozu comedy is entertaining, if not entirely devoid of dullness in a couple of spots. It is pretty funny, and the humour is surprisingly light despite the film technically focusing on a kidnapping. The plot parallels O. Henry's classic short story "The Ransom of Red Chief", which I really do admire as a piece of humourous fiction particularly because of its ability to use irony to turn a subject that could easily be made into something very very disturbing and, for most people, not particularly accessible or, you know, funny, and twists it so there is almost immediate relief in clever comic hijinks. This movie works with its concept very well for the short time that it lasts, and even shows signs of Ozu's famous visual style, which would go on to influence film for decades to come.
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Straightforward?... Really?
GrandeMarguerite27 August 2006
A short silent film, "A Straightforward Kid" (aka "The Charging Kid") follows the misadventures of a kidnapper (Tatsuo Saito) who lures a cherubic, bespectacled boy (Tomio Aoki) with toys and treats back into the hideout. However, when the mischievous and precocious boy becomes too much of a handful, the kidnapper's attempts to get rid of him proves to be a greater challenge than the abduction itself. In my opinion, the film is heavily influenced by Chaplin's silent films (which is not the worst reference one may pick). Funny at moments, Ozu's fans will enjoy this lightweight comedy. Note also that true to his tradition of directing often the same actors, Ozu used actors Tatsuo Saito and Tomio Aoki in many other films of the same period.
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Early Ozu, with Laughs
czarowoj7 May 2007
Yasujiro Ozu's 'A Straightforward Boy' is a short, comic sketch about a bumbling small-time criminal who kidnaps a boy, brings him home, finds the boy incredibly insufferable, and then can't seem to get rid of him. It's slight, it's slightly funny, and it shows off decent technique; if little else. It's certainly not a waste of time, however, and, in its own, quaint way is even kind of entertaining, and lively. Just don't expect too much.

If the film deserves a place in the film history of Yasujiro Ozu, it deserves none in the larger realm of world cinema history. By this time, much better films that deserve your time much more than 'A Straightforward Boy' were being made.

In short, if the film's director wasn't Ozu, there'd be really no reason to watch it. But, because the director is Ozu, things are mildly interesting.
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