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When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.
Director: Mikio Naruse
The widowed Keiko (Hideko Tanake) manages a hostess bar in Tokyo’s Ginza district. She remains faithful to the memory of her husband and supports her mother, brother and his son. The smiling mask she wears allows her to make a living, but the pressure to sell herself is unrelenting. Her business is failing and she must decide whether to raise the money to buy her own bar or marry one of her admiring affluent patrons.
Mikio Naruse’s superb, heartrending film is a classic of post-war Japanese cinema.