Good Morning (1959)

good morning poster 1959 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some decent moments, slice of life kind of portrayal

Aimless style of the story doesn't always work

Movie Info

Movie Name: Good Morning

Studio: Shochiku

Genre(s): Comedy

Release Date(s): May 12, 1959 (Japan)/February 1962 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

good morning fart game kids

When the fart game turns ugly

In a suburb of Tokyo day-to-day life revolves around gossip, who has what, and the children’s recent obsession with TV. Missing women’s club dues leads to rumors of a theft by Mrs. Haraguchi (Haruko Sugimura) and questions surround the couple which spends their day in pajamas, all this while the children enjoy playing a farting game that they’ve also become obsessed with. When Minoru and Isamu Hayashi (Shitara Koji and Masahiko Shimazu) decide they aren’t going to talk until their family gets their own TV, a war begins to brew in the small neighborhood.

Directed by Yasujirō Ozu, Good Morning (お早よう or Ohayō) is a Japanese comedy. The film was released to positive reviews, and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #84).

Good Morning is not a massive plot driven film. In fact, there is very little plot and what you think might develop into the thrust of the film doesn’t always happen. Instead, you get insight into day-to-day lives of middle-class families in Japan in the late 1950s, and as Americans, it is interesting to see the similarities and differences of the time.

good morning gossip

Heard any good gossip?

A lot of Japanese films emphasize the prim and proper parts of the culture or the dark side of Japan, but Good Morning does neither. You get real people including kids who like to watch TV which was gaining in popularity at the time and enjoy a good fart joke (the scene with the husband farting and the wife believing he called her is a good laugh). There is commentary about the state of jobs, but even the commentary is tinted by the bigger problems of gossip within the community fueled by rumors and innuendos. It sometimes feels like Good Morning is building to an explosion between the residents of the block, but like most neighborhood feuds, it fizzles away (and no one likes to actually talk about the conflict between neighbors).

The cast is made up of a lot of veteran Japanese actors playing the adults, but much of the film’s story actually revolves around the children. This leaves Shitara Koji and the young Masahiko Shimazu to carry a lot of the film. Though young, they do a good job in the film because they are playing kids doing kid things (though I kind of question the parents actually giving in to the demands in the end despite the reasoning).

good morning tv set ending shitara koji masahiko shimazu

Our bad behavior worked! We got a TV…let’s go for a nuclear weapon next!

The movie is bright and colorful. It does a great job showing day to day life in Japan at the time. While the 1950s in American is always revered and admired, other countries cultures at the time aren’t always explored. It is nice to see a comparison film that isn’t about the darkness and instead celebrates the light.

Good Morning is a fun, quick movie. It is light and fluffy and due to aspects of the story, a few watches might aid in nailing down some of the more intricate plot points surrounding the relationships between the neighbors. The movie is a good look at a different culture in a time when it seems like all that was popping up in America were monster movies like Godzilla. Here, you get to see real people living real lives, and it is refreshing.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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