Story of a Prostitute (春婦伝 Shunpuden) (1965) Netflix DVD 4.5/5
Shot in Black and White and mostly under appreciated when it was released, Story of a Prostitute is the middle film in Seijun Suzuki's prostitution trilogy (1964's Gate of Flesh and 1966's Carmen from Kawachi), though none of the movies are related to each other, except that Yumiko Nogawa is in each of them.
Here she plays the hot blooded Harumi, who gets jilted by her lover and then decides to sell her body to the troops on the war front in China to get away from her past in Japan. There she meets the sadistic Lt. Narita (Isao Tamagawa), who doesn't even take a shining to her - he just sees her as the best available body - and when she talks back he lets her know her place.
To get him back she seduces his obedient and loyal lap dog of a page, Pvt. Mikami (Tamio Kawaji), but she ends up falling deeply in love with him. His loyalty to his service to Japan gets in the way, but he gives in somewhat because of the passion Harumi shows - both the beauty and at times ugliness of it.
This movie has a great deal of contrasts that Suzuki wants to show us - the strict code of the military and yet their sneakiness to cover events that might make their unit look bad - the hatred Harumi feels for the abusive Narita and yet the surprising way she is shown to have sex with him - the feelings she has for Mikami and yet the quickness with which she attacks his stubborn refusal to go against his 'superiors'....
Of course, they're doomed from the start... and where I thought it might end, and didn't... and where I thought it might get a bit too preachy, but instead gave us an even more tragic and sad, yet fitting ending. The story and the style of this make it a great film, during Seijun Suzuki's greatest directing era.
It DID however, also feature another sneak peek of BUSH - completely taboo in Japanese cinema at the time - during Harumi and Narita's first sexual get together...this is no HINT of it... this is full frontal!https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UVElWc91Pts/Wi824OmMnKI/AAAAAAAAG2Q/X7D9YlcAI_IoK2YxfbbCA7EAeyhwM7XOgCLcBGAs/s1600/SOAPro005.jpg