Any Japanese cinema buffs out there?

In the second AsoIku novel, chapter two opens with Aoi dreaming. The first part of her dream features her oldest memory, of sitting on her father’s lap watching a movie and laughing together. She was very young, and this is almost all she remembers of him. It’s also one of the few happy moments in her life.

They’re watching an old black-and-white film, based on a television show that was a big hit before he was born, a comedy period piece. The lead actor, who later was known for a role as a long-faced, hard-boiled (すっかり渋い) detective, sang and danced, making funny moves and gestures. Without understanding much else, that was enough to amuse her.

The movie could have been shot in black-and-white as an artistic choice, but the wording suggests that both the original TV show and the movie were B/W, so no later than the mid-Sixties. Since the book was written in 2004 and set in 200A, and Aoi is sixteen, that works even if Dad was in his late twenties at the time.

I crossed my fingers and hoped that a “big hit” TV comedy would have a video or DVD release, and Amazon Japan allowed me to come up with a short list (rant about the difficulty of setting up the search left for another time…). Of those, exactly one early-Sixties title was a B/W period comedy, with a B/W movie adaptation, and a search for the first actor in the cast turned up a hard-boiled detective role. He even has a long face.

So, have I guessed correctly that her movie is Tenamonya Sandogasa, starring Makoto Fujita, who later went on to play the lead in the film Hagure Keiji?

[The exact identity of the film isn’t critical to the story; what’s important is that after a miserable youth being trained to become a cold-blooded killing machine, one night she saw this film again on a hotel TV, and remembered, and cried. So, her interest in movies is at least in part a way to connect with her father, and if she hadn’t seen it again by chance, she might never have become a movie maniac, met Kio, and broken away from her old life.]