This film came as part of a four-pack of films. After seeing his trinity of greatness: The Life Of Oharu, Ugestu, and Sansho The Bailiff, I was curious to see Kenji Mizoguchi's other works. Sadly, despite having made more than eighty films in his career, finding and obtaining his films proves to be rather difficult because most of his work has been lost over the course of decades (Somebody or some people fucked up, and they fucked up bad). Well, at least we have some of his works to watch and appreciate, and Osaka Elegy is a terrific early film in the director's career, though in comparison to his later works, it is a silver medal film.
The story follows a switchboard operator named Ayako, who becomes involved with her boss at a pharmaceutical company. From that point, her life becomes a mess, especially with her father who was fired from his company and now the company is seeking payment for the money he embezzled from them.
After a heated argument with her father, Ayako leaves home and moves into an apartment provided by her boss and he comes to see her regularly, though his wife has no clue about the affair for a brief period of time until two different incidents confirm her suspicions, and the affair is ended.
Ayako continues to use her beauty and charm to seduce other men into giving her money, but she is in love with one man and hopes to run away with him. Things, however don't go according to plan, as her scheming ways begin to catch up with her along with law enforcement.
The story, while simple, works well as a morality tale about a woman deceived by men and then living on the tricks she learned from seducing men to get her money. It's ultimately a tale about how society can turn someone innocent and then into a delinquent through deception and misguided trust.
The acting is also pretty good, mostly from Isuzu Yamada as Ayako who delivers an engaging performance. Her co-stars are also pretty good, but she is the one who steals the show, as her main character should with all her problems.
Osaka Elegy is no masterpiece, but it's still a very good early effort and clear sign of the greatness to come in future years from the talented, under-appreciated director. It's a great drama with just the right sprinkling of morality lessons to keep it afloat and keep it from becoming sappy nonsense. If you enjoyed Mizoguchi's other work, this is worth seeing.