Daisuke ITO (a film director) (伊藤大輔 (映画監督))

Daisuke ITO (October 12, 1898-July 19, 1981) was a film director and playwright in the Taisho and Showa periods.
He was one of the wonderful directors who established the base of period films and was called 'a father of period film.'

Brief Personal History
In 1898, he was born as a son of a junior high school teacher in Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture.

1911 (13 years old)
He entered Matsuyama Junior High School (now, Ehime Prefectural Matsuyamahigashi High School).

He made a literary society magazine with Mansaku ITAMI and others, and competed with Kusatao NAKAMURA, Soichi OYA and others in writing.

1916 (18 years old)
He graduated from Matsuyama Junior High School. He gave up advancing to higher education due to his father's death and worked as a draftsman for Kure Navy Arsenal.

1920 (22 years old)
In May, he moved to Tokyo on the coattails of Kaoru OSANAI with whom he had been forced to exchange letters. He lived with Mansaku ITAMI and entered Shochiku Cinema School of Acting (OSANAI's presidency), which was founded in February.

Supported by Kaoru OSANAI this year, he wrote the scenario of "Shinsei" (Newborn) which was the first work for Henry KOTANI, a director. Afterward, he wrote many scenarios in Shochiku Cinema and Imperial Cinema.

1924 (26 years old)
He debuted as a director with "Shuchu Nikki" (The Diary of a Dunkard) originally written by Doppo KUNIKIDA. This year, "Ken wa sabaku" (Sword of Judgement) became his first work in period drama.

1926 (28 years old)
He established his own company, 'Ito Film Laboratory.'
He directed "Kyoko and Shizuko" and "Nichirin" (the sun) trilogy, but his independent work ended in failure.

After transferring to Nikkatsu Studio this year, he worked with Denjiro OKOCHI, who was still new to directing period dramas such as "Chokon" (long resentment) and "Ruten" (continual change), and attracted attention with furious brawl scenes and bold camera work influenced by foreign films from the U.S., Germany, Soviet Union and so on.

1927 (29 years old)
He released the masterpiece "Chuji Tabi Nikki" (Chuji's travel diary) trilogy, which is referred to as a milestone in movie history. He immediately became a leading person in the film industry and had a great influence on future generations. "Gero" (retainer) starring Goro KAWABE, which Ito directed this year, is a masterpiece as well.

The 'Golden trio' composed of Daisuke ITO as a director, Denjiro OKOCHI as leading actor and Hiromitsu KARASAWA as cinematographer, in this period of Nikkatsu Studio became leaders in the twilight of Japanese silent film.

1928 (30 years old)
He gave Okochi a role of 'Sazen TANGE', a mysterious swordsman with Sekiwan sekigan (A single arm and a single eye) in "Shinpan Ooka Seidan" (New Ooka Cases, a film by Nikkatsu in 1928). Its story with a sense of speed gained so much popularity that 'Sazen TANGE played by Denjiro OKOCHI' became a regular favorite.

1929 (31 years old)
He directed "Zanjin Zanbaken" (Slashing Swords, Shochiku Kyoto) starring Ryunosuke TSUKIGATA, which surprised people with novelties including cutbacks and travel shots. This year, he also directed "Issatsu Tasho Ken" (A Chivalrous Sword) in Utaemon ICHIKAWA Production.

These two works were referred to as 'Keiko Eiga' (trend film), influenced by socialist thought at that time, and more than 300 feet of the completed film of "Issatsu Tasho Ken" was censored by the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs.

1930 (32 years old)
He directed "Kobo Shinsengumi (Zen-Go Shi)" (Ups and downs, Shinsengumi) depicting Shinsengumi, and the entertainment epic "Ooka Seidan Mazo hen."

1931 (33 years old)
He directed "Oatsurae Jirokichi Koshi" (Jirokichi the Rat), a love story full of lyricism.

"Madamu to Nyobo" (Madam and Wife, Shochiku Cinema Laboratory, directed by Heinosuke GOSHO) starring Kinuyo TANAKA was released this year, leading the film industry into the period of 'talking pictures'.

1932 (34 years old)
He directed "Les Miserables" in two volumes (originally written by Victor-Marie Hugo), starring Masao INOUE who was from the same town as ITO.

In addition to many troubles with film companies at this time because of his naturally very free-spirited character, his socialist thinking was suppressed by the authorities. As censorship intensified, he was saddened and lost his enthusiasm for making films after the talking picture period, and did not leave impressive works because of losing ground to Yasujiro OZU, Kenji MIZOGUCHI, Sadao YAMANAKA and others.

This year, he broke away from Nikkatsu to establish 'Shin eigasha' (New Film Company) with Minoru MURATA, Tomotaka TASAKA, Tomu UCHIDA and others.

1933 (35 years old)
Shin eigasha' was dissolved and he returned to Nikkatsu.

1935 (37 years old)
He wrote the script of "Yukinojo Henge" (An Actor's Revenge, directed by Teinosuke KINUGASA). Though his directing work was in the doldrums, he left many masterpieces as a scenario writer.

1936 (38 years old)
He established the 'Directors Guild of Japan' with Mansaku ITAMI, Teinosuke KINUGASA, Minoru MURATA and Kiyohiko USHIHARA.

1942 (44 years old)
He directed "Kurama Tengu Arrived in Yokohama," Daiei Kyoto's first film with Kanjuro ARASHI. "Kurama Tengu Arrived in Yokohama" was representative of Arakan's (Kanjuro ARASHI) work, but he appeared in it only in Daiei Kyoto.

1943 (45 years old)
He directed "Musashi Miyamoto, Two-sword Fencing Enlightenment" starring Chiezo KATAOKA. He bolstered the popularity of period drama and subsequently continued to make new works once a year while bringing up stars of period drama in these works.

1948 (50 years old)
He made "Osho" (King, Daiei Kyoto), which showed that he was still alive and kicking. Especially good acting by Tsumasaburo BANDO was impressive in this film.

This film became his subsequent life's work, being remade twice into "Osho Ichidai" starring Ryutaro TATSUMI in Shintoho in 1955 as well as "Osho" starring Rentaro MIKUNI in Toei Movie Studios in 1962.

1950 (52 years old)
He directed "Les Miserables, Ah Mujo" (the first part) for Toyoko Film Company. He remade it after having done it before the war.

1951 (53 years old)
He made Shochiku's 30-year anniversary film, "Oedo Gonin Otoko" (Five Men of Edo) using all stars including Tsumasaburo BANDO, Utaemon ICHIKAWA and others, which gained popularity.

1958 (60 years old)
He directed "Benten Kozo" (The Gay Masquerade) in Daiei Kyoto.

1960 (62 years old)
He directed "Kirare Yosaburo" (Scar Yosaburo) in Daiei Kyoto.

These were made for Raizo ICHIKAWA (the eighth), a star belonging to Daiei, and were praised for their images featuring the beauty of Kabuki style.

He was involved in two famous series of Daiei films, providing the scripts of "Nemuri Kyoshiro Buraiken" (Sleepy Eyes of Death: Sword of Villainy) of the 'Nemuri Kyoshiro Series' starring Raizo in 1965 as well as "Zatoichi Jigokutabi" (Zatoichi hell journey) of the 'Zatoichi Series' starring Shintaro KATSU in 1966.

1970 (72 years old)
"End of Edo Period" shot by Nakamura Production became his last work as a director. This was a masterpiece using Kinnosuke YOROZUYA, Toshiro MIFUNE and others, based on "Ryoma ga yuku" (Ryoma goes) by Ryotaro SHIBA.

Afterward, he wrote scripts and produced sets for Kinnosuke YOROZUYA.

He loved travel shots (a method of filming by moving cameraman and camera on a dolly on a rail) and got the nickname 'IDO DAISUKI' (I love moving), a pun on his name.

Nowadays, however, almost all of ITO's scenario films are scattered and lost, and it is difficult to grasp the whole picture. Fortunately, though, "Oatsurae Jirokichi Koshi" is left almost in the original condition and shows a part of his remarkable talent.

Thanks to the efforts of related parties, parts of "Chokon," "Chuji Tabi Nikki" and "Zanjin Zanbaken" were recently discovered and have also been recovered. They are increasingly shown for the public and are being reevaluated.

There is a monument to honor his great achievement in the Motoyuigi Children's Park, his birthplace.

[Original Japanese]