“Haru no mezame” was Naruse’s third full-lenth post-war film — and a delightful surprise. It turns out to be a slice of life film, centered around a couple of years in the life of a rural high school girl — played by 16 year old Yoshiko Kuga (future star in Portrait of Madame Yuki, Banka, Equinox Flower, Good Morning) — still a tiny bit plumpish — and not full grown. Almost no plot to speak of — just normal events of school and home life and hanging around with friends.
She gets grounded after one unauthorized coed outing (which a friend has unwisely photographed), she gets upset when one male acquaintance kisses her without approval, and gets sad when the boy she likes best is sent to a better school in Tokyo by his parents. A family maid gets pregnant (without benefit of marriage). This is as relaxed and good-natured a film as Naruse ever made. (He out-Shimizus Shimizu here — in this respect).
Interestingly, virtually none of Kuga’s female classmates here seem to have gone on to a career in films (despite offering nice, natural performances). We also see (in supporting roles) a surprisingly young looking (and pretty) Haruko Sugimura as Kuga’s mother and a slightly youngish Takashi Shimura (who looks much the same as we know him from Kurosawa’s films).
1.37GB | 1h 29m | 682×511 | mkv