Director – Sadao Yamanaka –1935 – Japan – 92m (longest available version)
Period drama in which various characters palm a worthless pot off on others only to later discover it’s extremely valuable – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2023 between Friday, 3rd February and Friday, 31st March
A gorgeous restoration by Nikkatsu, this populist potboiler from 1935 is an excuse to show off the talents of chambara star Denjiro Okochi as the eponymous ronin Tange Sazen, who at one point cheerfully admits himself to be a freeloader off of archery club hostess and geisha house owner Ofuji (Kiyozo).
The equally eponymous pot, however, is in the film from the start, as after he has passed it off to his brother Genzaburo (Kunitaro Sawamura) who has married the daughter of a swordsman in Edo, a regional Yagyu Lord is informed that the pot’s glaze conceals a map to the whereabouts of a treasure chest containing a million ryo hidden by one of his ancestors shortly. Unaware of its considerable value, the latter’s wife Hagino (Hanai Ranko) is embarrassed by this piece of worthless junk and wants her husband to throw it in the shed, so she doesn’t have to look at it.… Read the rest