Mikio Naruse

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs might be Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse's finest hour—a delicate, devastating study of a woman, Keiko (played heartbreakingly by Hideko Takamine), who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo's very modern postwar Ginza district, who entertains businessmen after work. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to establish her independence in a male-dominated society. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs shows the largely unsung yet widely beloved master Naruse at his most socially exacting and profoundly emotional.

Film Info

  • Mikio Naruse
  • Japan
  • 1960
  • 111 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 2.35:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #377

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by Japanese-film scholar Donald Richie
  • New video interview with Tatsuya Nakadai
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholars Audie Bock, Catherine Russell, and Phillip Lopate

New cover by Steve Chow

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by Japanese-film scholar Donald Richie
  • New video interview with Tatsuya Nakadai
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholars Audie Bock, Catherine Russell, and Phillip Lopate

New cover by Steve Chow

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Cast
Hideko Takamine
Keiko Yashiro
Masayuki Mori
Nobuhiko Fujisaki
Reiko Dan
Junko Inchihashi
Tatsuya Nakadai
Kenichi Komatsu
Ganjiro Nakamura
Goda
Daisuke Kato
Matsukichi Sekine
Eitaro Ozawa
Minobe
Keiko Awaji
Yuri
Credits
Director
Mikio Naruse
Screenplay
Ryuzo Kikushima
Producer
Ryuzo Kikushima
Music
Toshiro Mayuzumi
Cinematography
Masao Tamai
Production design
Satoshi Chuko

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Explore

Tatsuya Nakadai

Actor

A dynamic, handsome star who got his start in Japanese cinema during its 1950s golden age, the Tokyo-born Tatsuya Nakadai defies easy categorization. He is convincing whether playing a mercenary lone wolf or a heartsick love interest, a hero or a villain, in a sleek suit or samurai robes, and just as comfortable blending in to an ensemble as commanding a spotlight. The stage-trained actor was discovered, while working as a shop clerk, in 1953 by director Masaki Kobayashi, who promptly cast him in a tiny role in the controversial drama The Thick-Walled Room; a year later, he was given a walk-on part in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. After a major breakthrough as a young yakuza in Kobayashi’s Black River, Nakadai was on his way to becoming one of Japan’s busiest actors; he would work several more times with both Kobayashi and Kurosawa, as well as Hideo Gosha, Kon Ichikawa, Mikio Naruse, Kihachi Okamoto, and Hiroshi Teshigahara—the cream of the nation’s crop of film artists. Nakadai, still acting into his eighties, is perhaps most often recalled for his ravaging performances in Kobayashi’s epic war drama The Human Condition (1959–61) and Kurosawa’s Ran (1985), in which he embodies unforgettably a cinematic King Lear for the ages.