Nishikawa Katsumi

The news services report that Nishikawa Katsumi, the director of many of the great postwar youth films, died on April 6, 2010, of pneumonia. He was 91. 

Nishikawa was born in 1918 in Tottori and graduated from the Arts Faculty of Nihon University before entering Shochiku in 1939. The war interrupted his career - an experience he would later write about - but he returned to being an assistant director to Shibuya Minoru and Nakamura Noboru before directing his first film in 1952. He switched to Nikkatsu in 1954 when it resumed production, making films in a number of genres - including action movies - but it was his youth films starring Yoshinaga Sayuri (Nikkatsu's eternal virginal star, with fan sites here and here) or Takahashi Hideki that proved to be big hits. He moved to television when Nikkatsu turned to Roman Porno, but he returned to film in order to shoot youth films starring Yamaguchi Momoe (the enigmatic idol star of the 1970s: see here and here and here) and Miura Tomokazu (whom Momoe-chan would later marry), including such movies as Izu no odoriko (The Izu Dancer) and Eden no umi that he had shot at Nikkatsu before. 

I have seen some film scholars talk about Japanese "youth films" (seishun eiga) but end up only speaking about New Wave cinema. The truly popular youth films, however, were those directed by Nishikawa and his brethren. A real study of these still has not been done in English.

There are some books on or by Nishikawa in Japanese, however: 

  • Nishikawa Katsumi and Gondo Susumu. Nishikawa Katsumi eiga shugyo. Waizu Shuppan, 1993. 
  • Nishikawa Katsumi. Izu no odoriko monogatari. Firumu Atosha, 1994. 
  • Nishikawa Katsumi. Shiroi karasu: Ikinokotta heishi no kiroku. Kojinsha, 1997. 

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