That Night's Wife ★★★★

One might suppose that a movie entitled That Night’s Wife might be about adultery or spousal swapping or something equally naughty. That is, however, not the case at all: this 1930 Japanese silent film concerns a man who robs a bank, not for personal gain, but in order to buy medicine for his sick child. In fact, the man seems to spend most of the movie crouched over his daughter’s sickbed while his wife hold a gun on the detective who is investigating the robbery. The wife eventually dozes off and, upon awakening, finds the pistol in the possession of the cop. But the lawman is sympathetic and eventually talks the father into surrendering to the authorities. This the man does willingly, knowing that his child will recover.

Director Yasujiro Ozu gets good performances out of his actors in this decidedly low-key drama. One interesting side note: Japanese beat patrolmen in 1930, while seemingly not carrying firearms, are each equipped with a full-sized sword! One wonders how practical a sword would be in fighting street crime.