The Chase (1958)

The Chase (aka “Stakeout”; Harikomi)stakeout-poster
Directed by Yoshitaro Nomura
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto; story by Seicho Matsumoto
1958/Japan
Shochiku Ofuna
First viewing/Hulu

What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order. P. D. James

This Japanese film noir starts out very, very slowly but pays off in the end.

Two Tokyo detectives are on the trail of an accomplice to the robbery of a pawnshop and murder of its owner.  They suspect the accomplice will attempt to contact Sadako, an old girlfriend in his home town on the southern island of Kyushu.  They check into an inn across the street from where she lives and proceed to watch her.

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Sadako is now married to a much older widower with three children.  She appears to be the ideal subservient wife, spending all her time cleaning, mending, and shopping.  Her husband gives her only 100 yen a day to buy food.  The younger of the two detectives finds it hard to believe such a boring woman could ever have been involved with a criminal.  They continue their stakeout for almost a week with no action whatsoever.  Eventually the detective begins to pity Sadako.

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This movie begins with a long train ride to Kyushu before the credits even begin to roll.  So it started out with one strike against it.  But gradually you get drawn into somewhat of a comedy in which the innkeepers are suspicious of their guests and the mystery about the woman.  Things build until you care about all the characters and I thought the end was moving.

Trailer (no subtitles)

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