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Setsuko Hara.


slaytonf
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There are a handful of actresses who are at the top.  Along with the likes of Olivia de Havilland, and Giulietta Masina, I include Setsuko Hara.  I first encountered her unknowingly in Tokyo Story (1953), where she plays the widow of the leading couple's son.  I thought, what a lovely, touching performance, but remained unconscious of her as an actress.  She burst-exploded-into my awareness in what turns out to be my favorite movie of hers, Akira Kurosawa's No Regrets for Our Youth (1946).  She plays a talented, intelligent, yet proud, vain, and shallow girl who goes through many changes in character as she goes through World War II with family and friends.  Kurosawa ends up portraying her something like a proletarian culture hero.  But her best work undoubtedly was with Yasujiro Ozu.  She plays in various movies women in different domestic situations.  The best of these, to my thinking, is Late Spring (1949).  In it she plays the devoted daughter of an aging widower, keeping house for him.   Worried for her future, he urges her to marry.  To convince her, he tells her he intends to remarry so she needn't feel obligated to remain home to take care of him.  He completely misjudges her, it being a joy for her.  In a performance that tears at the heart, Miss Hara  portrays her feelings of uncomprehending betrayal, sacrifice, devotion, all under the calm surface of polite reserve required in Japanese society. 

Today is Setsuko Hara day.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see Eddie Muller do the introductions for the primetime films.  I thought he did a nice job and had some interesting comments.  It was also nice to see TCM shine a spotlight on an actor that many of us (myself included) may have not been aware of their body of work.

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