Kenji Mizoguchi’s most famous film is also his best. Based on the famous Japanese tales, it deals with two peasant couples: Genjuro and his wife Miyagi, and Tobei and his wife Ohama. Genjuro is humble but greedy, wanting to sell pots at the market and make himself a fortune, while Tobei dreams of being a samurai even if he doesn’t exactly have what it takes to be one. When their village is destroyed by an army, they leave their wives to make some money in the city. They are blinded by their greed and ambition, Tobei becoming a great samurai by pure luck and Genjuro being lured away from his family by a ghostly seductress played by the beautiful Machiko Kyō, the legendary, beautiful actress of Rashomon and Gate of Hell. Sadly, their wives pay for their actions. I won’t say how, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what I mean. The film is one of the greatest of all time, mixing romance, drama, comedy and even horror and directed to perfection. There are literally no flaws in this film, and I’d be surprised if anyone doesn’t like this film. Criterion released it on dvd a few years ago and gave it a perfect presentation, including a full-length documentary on the life of Kenji Mizoguchi directed by Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba). A must-buy.