Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hideko Takamine

I have a new obsession. It is the Japanese actress Hideko Takamine, born in 1924, who was one of Japan's biggest movie stars. She began as their Shirley Temple, spent some time as a young Judy Garland type, then became their Katharine Hepburn and worked with Mikio Naruse, my other new love, and Kinoshita and Ozu. She also introduced Kurosawa to his right-hand actor, Toshiro Mifune. I've never seen an American actress from the period (mid-century) do what she does--emote without becoming brittle or tinny or hysterical. The important thing for her, it seems, is the character and the story, and she seems willing to disappear into the film rather than decorate it or ride roughshod over it with her personality. She seems like a real woman--I don't know how else to say it. That's her in the picture above the post about Naruse, but here she is in a close-up.