Written by: Carroll Jenkins on September 5th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1977
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writer: Gan Yamazaki
Cast: Kyôko Enami, Yoshio Harada, Masumi Okada, Shûji Sano, Yoko Shiraki
DVD released: August 11th, 2009
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Sounds patently absurd, but that’s just the jump off point. The film is really about obsession; and golf, being one of the world’s most obsessive sports, seem a likely setting. How many times have you seen someone practice their golf swing in public – versus their bowling approach or breast stroke? Why do I keep finding golf balls in my vegetable garden?
The film begins with an organization – garment manufacturers rather than yakuza, though there’s really little difference between them. They run the aspiring spokeswoman through the Tiger Woods golf training course (meaning intensive and rigorous to the point of abusive), and she wins! Her relationship with her Svengali-like mentor intensifies at this point, and she obtains wealth and fame and a luxurious house. Her neighbor, however, must have seen Play Misty For Me too many times, because she becomes an obsessive stalker, eventually competing with Svengali for total control of the life of our heroine. Actually, she’s more doomed protagonist in a noir melodrama than conventional leading lady.
As Michael Den Boer points out in the text essay, the most compelling performance is by Kyôko Enami (The Fall of Ako Castle) as the stalker. Director Seijun Suzuki, who’s notable films had included Youth Of The Beast, Gate Of Flesh, and Tokyo Drifter, was fired from Nikkatsu following Branded To Kill. A Tale of Sorrow And Sadness was his comeback feature following a stint in television.
Digitally remastered and presented in anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1, with trailer and essay by Michael Den Boer of 10KBullets.com. In Japanese with removable English subtitles.
This is a lesser film in the director’s filmography, and it does have some slow stretches. Nevertheless, the film is a quirky look at life in an alternate reality. Sort of a noirish fairytale kingdom peopled by gangsters and psychos. And golfers.
Note: At 66 minutes and 2 seconds into the film there is a brief scene with dialog that has not been subtitled and this scene ends at 67 minutes and 26 seconds. It should also be noted that the region 3 Hong Kong DVD released by Panorama Entertainment is also missing subtitles during this scene.