Ken Uehara, Shin Saburi, Shuji Sano in THE TRIO’S ENGAGEMENTS

Star system is always the central piece of movie industry. A big star muttering horrible lines in an awful script is still better than unknown actors playing the performance of the decade in an excellent indie movie. At least in box office terms. When you need a boost in numbers, you are better off with two stars instead of one. Let’s make it three, then you have a sure hit.

For THE TRIO’S ENGAGEMENTS, Shochiku executives ordered its three male romantic stars in one little comedy. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t have to be coherent, even (judging from the outcome). It just needs to showcase Shochiku’s three male stars, Ken Uehara, Shuji Sano and Shin Saburi, against each other to satisfy their female fans little fantasy. They need to look sharp, so they play young dapper employees of a modern department store. Ken Uehara, usually cast as a sweet romaitc lead, is now a music-loving, somewhat absent-minded straight guy. Shin Saburi, Shochiku’s heavy-set, quiet man, is cast as a carefree talkative roughneck. Shuji Sano is a lazy lovebird. They all chase the same woman; Mieko Takamine in the first major screen role as a department store owner’s spoiled daughter.

Yasujiro Shimazu directed this light-hearted comedy in 1937. JMDb lists this film as 9 reels, which means the total runtime must have been around 90 minutes. The print available today is at around 65 minutes, suggesting two reels are missing. We will never know what went on with the missing reels (probably the plot about Sano falling for Takamine), but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s just a little goofy comedy and just as enjoyable with the existing print.


The Trio’s Engagements (婚約三羽烏, 1937)

Written and Directed by Yasujiro Shimazu
Cinematography by Shojiro Sugimoto
Starring: Ken Uehara, Shuji Sano, Shin Saburi, Mieko Takamine

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