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The Blue Sky Maiden 1957

Early Masumura is contemporary with late Douglas Sirk -- both harnessed garish fifties modernism for a scathing, full-color portrait of ambition in the new middle class. In Blue Sky Maiden, Ayako Wakao plays good-natured Yuko, the illegitimate daughter of a well-off executive, raised in the country by relatives. Journeying to Tokyo she finds Father's Western-style house to be a nest of vipers straight out of There's Always Tomorrow, replete with Terrible Children, a housekeeper who sees all, and a dog named Cal with his own doghouse. But Yuko meets it all with aplomb; she's interested in one thing only, finding her real, cast off mother. While digging Blue Sky Maiden's echt-fifties Japan (look for the Sun Tribe-following big brother, and the nightclub singer's hand-print frock), we experience what James Quandt meant when he said, "Even at its most berserk and genre-bound, Masumura's cinema is semiotically rich and sophisticated."


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