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Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs)

Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs) (1963)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 1,045

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Movie Info

Filmmaker Mikio Naruse takes a characteristic dour look at life in When A Woman Ascends the Stairs. The central character is a barmaid, who works day and night to avoid being thrown out into the street. She knows that, if she loses her job, the only profession open to her is the World's Oldest. But when the worst happens, the barmaid learns to live with herself while compromising her values. The film's original title was Onna Ga Kaidan O Agaru Toki. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Art House & International, Drama

Ryuzo Kikushima

Feb 20, 2007

Ryuzo Kikushima

Watch It Now



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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (0) | DVD (8)

A new classic.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's also elegantly shot and scored; all that's missing is a touch of humour.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Independent

A heartbreaker.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Sprint, don't walk, up those BFI steps to see it.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

The new retrospective of Mikio Naruse at London's BFI Southbank will do much to restore the reputation of a neglected Japanese director, and this 1960 film is a heartbreaking study, to be compared with Mizoguchi's Life of Oharu.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian

Shot in luminous black and white cinemascope, this is an exquisitely understated study of the plight of a young woman in an unforgiving society.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

The money-grubbing realities of late 1950s Tokyo make for riveting viewing in Naruse's naturalistic classic. These are no ordinary memories of a geisha.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Patience will be rewarded.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source:

Lustrously photographed in monochrome by Masai Tamai, this is essentially a Tokyo twist on Nights of Cabiria (1957), with Mikio Naruse and Hideko Takamine replacing Fellina and Masina's kooky optimism with a fatalistic humanism.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Even a casual viewing of When a Woman Ascends the Stairs shows what a gifted humanist Naruse was.

April 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Naruse creates an affecting scenario of modern Japanese society and the pitfalls a woman in such a patriarchal society must face.

July 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The final close-up-featuring Keiko smiling in lieu of tears-might be frozen, framed, and subtitled "Lady Sings the Blues."

November 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs)

If you have seen it tell me you didn't have tears coming down throw this heartbraking film??? This classic is surely one of my top 30 and it's nothing short of neat and near perfect!

I liked the way Hideko Takamine acts out her lines with such power and emotion. The style of our director is their with the way she films it, and she tends to make more use of shadows for more reason one can see while watching.

I liked every aspect of production and my final suggestion is SEE IT! (I may make a bigger review some day)
August 14, 2011
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Keiko Aya

Super Reviewer

this is my first experience of naruse and in fact his only film that's widely available in the u.s. this is a shame as i found it to be a masterpiece on the level of ozu or mizoguchi. it's interesting so many of their films revolve around female characters. meanwhile you'd be hard-pressed to find a single decent female character in most of kurosawa's work
May 5, 2011
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

a patient, emotional, and highly effective portrayal of the struggle of a virtuous woman in a not so virtuous world. the film features some of the great and familiar actors from this era of japanese cinema and just about every aspect of the film was performed well. the only real drawback was that the storyline with the main characters brother, a storyline i found myself very interested in, was the only storyline in the film not developed well. the main plot however was developed perfectly and the film gets its point across with beauty. overall an excellent film for any fan of good female leads or japanese cinema.
June 21, 2009
danny d

Super Reviewer

My first Naruse film and certainly wont be my last. He bridges the gap between Ozu's dissection of Japanese women of the time and Kurosawa's entertainment values. A true beauty of a film it is funny, moving but never sentimental. Despite some dark turns the film always keeps it's feet on the ground and never becomes too depressing. The editing is faster paced than some of his peers and it is to Naruse's credit. A wonderfully detailed and fantastically portrayed film with a dozen performances worth a mention as well as some of the most beautiful actresses ever. Simply stunning.
December 20, 2007

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki) (1960) (DE)
  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) (UK)
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