MIKIO NARUSE WON HIS ACCOLADES in a film world that allowed him to avoid directorial bravura while celebrating the challenges of everyday life. A prolific filmmaker in both the silent and sound eras, he received Japan’s “Best One” award in 1935 for Wife! Be Like a Rose! and again two decades later for Floating Clouds. Both of these films show the determination of ordinary young women to find happiness, a theme that pervades most of Naruse’s more than eighty works. The vivacious star of Wife! Be Like a Rose!, Sachiko Chiba, would tell me a half century after her divorce from the quiet filmmaker that he was the only man she had ever really loved and that she never should have left him. Late in life her tears atoned for the mistakes of a young star who had failed to see that it was the director who created her winsome screen presence, and not the reverse. A contemporary of first-generation
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