Mikio Naruse is probably the most important Japanese director to remain unknown here. A true nihilist, he was also intensely shy, so he found himself assigned to comedies for much of his early career. This great popular success is generally regarded as his best film of the 30s, a complex, gradually deepening comedy about an office girl seeking her father, who has deserted her poetess mother to live with a geisha. The film endorses self-effacement of women but never questions their superior strength and understanding. The complicated, innovative style poses metaphysical questions to match the moral issues—Naruse’s highly angled compositions and oddly accented editing constantly undermine his characters’ place in the world. This 1935 feature was the first Japanese talkie released in the U.S., where it received condescending reviews. In Japanese with subtitles. 74 min.