Friday, May 25, 2007

Yoshiko Kuga

This is a photograph of the divine Yoshiko Kuga, taken by Shotaro Akiyama. Ms. Kuga is noteworthy for having appeared in films by all three of The Big Three. I recently enjoyed her performances in The Idiot (1951, Akira Kurosawa), New Tales of the Taira Clan (1955, Kenji Mizoguchi) and Good Morning (1959, Yasujiro Ozu). Her striking beauty and natural talent make her memorable in any part, large or small. Even in the Mizoguchi film, where her lines are few and the camera never gets closer than a two-shot, her poised grace and strong, feminine presence create a fully three-dimensional character.

She was married to actor Akihiko Hirata, himself a Japanese film veteran who starred in kaiju eiga (Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan) as well as samurai films (Musashi Miyamoto II, Samurai Saga, Sanjuro), until his untimely death in 1984. Hirata and Kuga both appeared in Hiroshi Inagaki's Whirlwind (1964) and Samurai Banners (1969).

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