Saikaku Ichidai Onna (aka The Life Of Oharu) (1952)
Told in flashback, in 17th century Japan, a lady in waiting (Kinuyo Tanaka) falls in love with a man (Toshiro Mifune) of a lower class which violates the standards of the ruling class. He is executed and she is banished. But her life only gets worse as she goes from concubine to courtesan and eventually common prostitution with only a brief respite of happily married life. "Fallen" women are no stranger to the films of the great director Kenji Mizoguchi and this is perhaps his ultimate fallen woman film. While Mizoguchi makes it clear that Oharu is a victim of circumstance in a society where a woman's options are practically nil and often exploited, after humiliation after humiliation and suffering, it becomes clear that's all there is and we patiently wait for the movie to conclude. Yet one can't deny the power of the film's final 10 minutes. Fortunately, there's also a dynamic performance in the title role by Kinuyo Tanaka who's in practically ever scene. The persuasive underscore is by Ichiro Saito. Based on the novel by Ihara Saikaku. With Ichiro Sugai, Yuriko Hamada and Hiroshi Oizumi.