Kenji Mizoguchi

Street of Shame

Street of Shame

For his final film, Mizoguchi brought a lifetime of experience to bear on the heartbreaking tale of a brothel full of women whose dreams are constantly being shattered by the socioeconomic realities surrounding them. Set in Tokyo’s Red Light District (the literal translation of the Japanese title), Street of Shame was so cutting, and its popularity so great, that when an antiprostitution law was passed in Japan just a few months after the film's release, some said it was a catalyst.

Film Info

  • Japan
  • 1956
  • 85 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Japanese

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 13: Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women

Kenji Mizoguchi’s Fallen Women

DVD Box Set

4 Discs


Street of Shame
Machiko Kyo
Aiko Mimasu
Ayako Wakao
Michiyo Kogure
Yasuko Kawakami
Eitarô Shindô
Kenji Sugawara
Bontaro Miake
Toranosuke Ogawa
Mickey’s father
Kenji Mizoguchi
Masaichi Nagata
Masashige Narusawa
Based partly on the novel “Women of Susaki” by
Yoshiko Shibaki
Kazuo Miagawa
Kanji Sugawara
Tashiro Mayuzumi
Art direction
Hiroshi Mizutani


Games of Vision in Street of Shame
Games of Vision in Street of Shame

Professor David Bordwell unpacks the sophisticated design of Kenji Mizoguchi’s final masterpiece.

A Scorsese Interview, Fire Walk With Me on Vinyl, Kodak Brings Back Ektachrome!

Did You See This?

A Scorsese Interview, Fire Walk With Me on Vinyl, Kodak Brings Back Ektachrome!

With Alain Resnais’s Muriel, or The Time of Return now streaming on FilmStruck, Leo Robson explores how this radical meditation on memory “invites broader questions about what happens when we return to a movie: Is rewatching a compliment or a bet…
Paul Schrader’s Top 10
Paul Schrader’s Top 10

It's pretty hard to go wrong selecting ten “best” or ten “favorites” from the Criterion Collection, although it might be interesting to select the ten worst Criterion releases (something that, in deference to my friends at Criterion, I will n


Kenji Mizoguchi


Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi

Often named as one of Japan’s three most important filmmakers (alongside Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu), Kenji Mizoguchi created a cinema rich in technical mastery and social commentary, specifically regarding the place of women in Japanese society. After an upbringing marked by poverty and abuse, Mizoguchi found solace in art, trying his hand at both oil painting and theater set design before, at the age of twenty-two in 1920, enrolling as an assistant director at Nikkatsu studios. By the midthirties, he had developed his craft by directing dozens of movies in a variety of genres, but he would later say that he didn’t consider his career to have truly begun until 1936, with the release of the companion films Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion, about women both professionally and romantically trapped. Japanese film historian Donald Richie called Gion “one of the best Japanese films ever made.” Over the next decade, Mizoguchi made such wildly different tours de force as The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939), The 47 Ronin (1941–42), and Women of the Night (1948), but not until 1952 did he break through internationally, with The Life of Oharu, a poignant tale of a woman’s downward spiral in an unforgiving society. That film paved the road to half a decade of major artistic and financial successes for Mizoguchi, including the masterful ghost story Ugetsu (1953) and the gut-wrenching drama Sansho the Bailiff (1954), both flaunting extraordinarily sophisticated compositions and camera movement. The last film Mizoguchi made before his death at age fifty-eight was Street of Shame (1956), a shattering exposé set in a bordello that directly led to the outlawing of prostitution in Japan. Few filmmakers can claim to have had such impact.