Director: Akira Kurosawa
Year Released: 1972
A happy-faced kook - who, like all kooks, makes his mother weep - operates a 'pretend' trolley (just him shuffling his feet and chanting the movie's title) that goes to the slums of the city where the thieves, drunks, rapists, gossips as well as the honest folk congregate and struggle to live. The episodic nature of the film, leaping from scenario to scenario rather indiscriminately - a scene of anguish precedes a light-hearted moment - is the picture's major issue, as it comes across as rather random and that, after about ninety minutes or so, it could more or less end and you'd get the general gist of things. Kurosawa 'feels' for the lesser fortunate and the outcasts, but doesn't see much of a solution to their problems aside from watching them escape into fantasy (a man and his son dream of building a glorious mansion) or alcohol. Leonard Maltin's guide makes an intriguing note that this "was originally 240 minutes," while the Criterion DVD release is 100 minutes shorter - that's quite a chunk of footage to remove: was it (more) filler?