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Machiko Kyō

July 26 to August 11

News of Machiko Kyō’s death at the age of 95 this May came in the midst of our planning a retrospective of the films of the marvelous actress, one of the last living links to the Golden Age of Japanese cinema; so, sadly, this program has become a posthumous tribute. But any occasion to see Kyō on screen is cause for joy, an explosion of life—born in Osaka in 1924 and discovered while working in a dance revue, she shot to international stardom with a bravura, multifaceted performance as the female lead in Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 Rashomon, and from there put together what may be the single greatest run of any Japanese screen performer in the 1950s, working with Mizoguchi (repeatedly), Ozu, Ichikawa, Teshigahara, and a host of other auteurs. Fitting effortlessly into any period, she could play both the westernized sex worker of Mizoguchi’s Street of Shame (1956) and the feudal-era lady-in-waiting in Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Gate of Hell (1953) with equal conviction and integrity—a performer of enormous versatility who was most consistent only in her genius.

Previously Screened