Todays Naruse film is a short film on 54 minutes from 1941 about a bus-conductor(Who would have guessed that?) trying to come up with ways to keep her passengers.
Hideko The Bus-Conductor was the first collaboration between Mikio Naruse and Hideko Takamine, one of Japans finest actresses. The movie is named after Hideko Takamine, even though the main character is called Okoma. She was seventeen years old at that time and is definitely the strongest of Naruses female characters in his early years of filmmaking. Takamines brilliant acting about the young woman who has to grow into a strong professional speaking subject. Takamine had been acting since the age of six and Hideko The Bus Conductor is kind of her transformation from a child actress to an adult serious actress and it is one of her best roles.
The bus company Okoma works for have deep financial issues and her and the driver Sonoda comes to the idea that they should ask a writer for help to provide tour guides she can read to their passengers.
This is the last movie Naruse made before Japan joined World War 2 and the portrayal of Japan is quite peaceful and free compared to how it really was with a lot of hunger, poverty and restrictions
The problem is that most of Mikio Naruse in the 1940s are lost or not easy to get hold of in the West so the quality of these short films we find on YouTube are not necessarily good. At 54 minutes it is almost to short, and the downside of that is that we don’t get enough time to highlight essential parts other than the acting, but I can’t mention it enough that the acting is also so amazing you just end up baffled.
If you want a good introduction to the cinema of Mikio Naruse, and how exceptional he is at directing Hideko The Bus-Conductor is a good place to start, sadly it is quite hard to find in watchable quality but for the movie fanatic I would say it is almost obligatory to watch this just for Hideko Takamines incredible strong acting.