Singing Lovebirds PG

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From the archive

This film was last shown on 8 December 2019

Directed by Masahiro Makino, the ‘Busby Berkeley of Japan’,Singing Lovebirds is a rarely seen Japanese musical comedy from 1939 in which three women compete for the attentions of a samurai. Breezy, light hearted and full of verve, charm and invention it’s a joyous, eminently watchable treat.

The daughter of a former rōnin (masterless samurai), Oharu (Haruyo Ichikawa) is in love with Reisaburō Asai (Chiezō Kataoka), another rōnin who lives next door. But she faces steep romantic competition from two other local admirers – and matters are complicated further when her father, finding himself deeply in debt to the local lord (Dick Mine), fears he might have to sell her to pay it off…

Singing Lovebirds is notable for the way it plays with light and shadow (in both its song lyrics and radiant visuals) and its eclectic jazz score, which pulls in music from native jojuri and naniwabushi to tango and even Cuban-African sounds. The film also features Takashi Shimura, most famous as the lead samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, in a singing role!

Screening as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO.

Screenings of this film are organised in partnership with the Japan Foundation, celebrating the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.

Masahiro Makino
1 hour 9 minutes
Chiezo Kataoka, Haruyo Ichikawa, Takashi Shimura


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