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When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)

Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 25 June 1963 (USA)
A middle-aged bar hostess, constantly in debt, is faced with numerous social constraints and challenges posed to her by her family, customers and friends.

Director:

Mikio Naruse
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hideko Takamine ... Keiko Yashiro
Masayuki Mori ... Nobuhiko Fujisaki
Reiko Dan Reiko Dan ... Junko Inchihashi
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Kenichi Komatsu, the manager
Daisuke Katô ... Matsukichi Sekine
Ganjirô Nakamura Ganjirô Nakamura ... Goda
Eitarô Ozawa Eitarô Ozawa ... Minobe
Keiko Awaji Keiko Awaji ... Yuri
Chieko Nakakita ... Tomoko
Jun Tatara Jun Tatara
Yû Fujiki Yû Fujiki
Masao Oda Masao Oda
Ken Mitsuda Ken Mitsuda
Chikako Hosokawa Chikako Hosokawa
Sadako Sawamura Sadako Sawamura
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Storyline

This is the story of Mama, a.k.a. Keiko, a middle-aged bar hostess who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. The life of a bar hostess is examined as well as the way in which the system traps and sometimes kills those in it. Written by PastaQueen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bar | money | debt | middle aged | drunk | See All (32) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

25 June 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs See more »

Filming Locations:

Tokyo, Japan

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$51,775
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toho Company See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Perspecta Sound encoding) (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #377. See more »

Quotes

Nobuhiko Fujisaki: Even when a woman's in your arms, you can never tell who she's really thinking of.
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User Reviews

 
A neo-realist feminist drama worth watching
23 September 2014 | by mikeburdickSee all my reviews

This film reminded me most of Italian neo-realist films like "Umberto D" and particularly, "Nights of Cabiria," because it focuses on the struggles of average people who are perhaps on the fringes, the subject being a bar hostess. While Keiko's not exactly a prostitute, she is paid to entertain men, a lucrative but soulless career.

As she comes to grips with aging, Keiko struggles to decide between striking out on her own or giving up the business completely. While Fate naturally deals her some ups and downs, I found it to be ultimately quite a cynical story, lacking the hope of "Cabiria." Perhaps that makes it truer to life.

Regardless, there are some outstanding performances by Hideko Takamine and Tatsuya Nakadai. This is the first Naruse film I've seen, and look forward to watching more of his films. Unfortunately, they are quite difficult to get your hands on.


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