The Only Son (1936) IMDb

Extent

Seen in 2017.

Subject

A poor single mother from Shinshuu reluctantly sacrifices herself to put her son through school, then meets him in Tokyo about a year after he gets a job.

Commentary

A thin sliver of Tokyo Story (1953), but with Tokyo on the opposite side of its devastation in WW2, which is fun. The motif of personal disappointment is handled well enough, but does not reach any great depth.

In one scene, the characters in this early Japanese talkie go to see a (German) talkie, with the son pointing out to his mother that “this is a talkie”; it’s both realistic and a good self-aware joke. Chishū Ryū acquits himself well, already playing a kind older man for Ozu at 32.

Japanese production fiction moving picture