KYO, Machiko





Nationality: Japanese. Born: Motoko Yamo in Osaka, 25 March 1924. Education: Attended Azuma Elementary School. Career: 1936—joined the Osaka Shochiku Girls Opera as dancer: stage debut, 1936; 1944—film debut in Tengu-daoshi ; 1949—joined the Daiei Studio and first groomed as a "glamour girl" under the producer Masaichi Nagata; 1964—television debut in Aburaderi , and in film version, Amai shiru , 1964. Awards: Mainichi Eiga Concourse Awards for Best Actress, 1950 and 1964; Kinema Jumpo Award for Best Actress, for Sweet Sweat , 1964; also Special Citation, D. W. Griffith Awards, "for the modernization of traditional Japanese acting," 1954. Address: Olimpia Copu-35, 6–35 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151, Japan.


Films as Actress:

1944

Tengu-daoshi (Inoue); Danjuro sandai ( Three Generations of Danjuro ) (Mizoguchi)

1949

Saigo ni warau otoko (Yasuda) (as dancer); Hanakurabe tanuki-goten (Kimura); Chika-gai no dankon ; Mitsu no shinju ; Chijin no ai (Kimura) (as Naomi); Hebi-hime dochu (Kimura and Marune)

1950

Zoku Hebi-hime dochu (Kimura and Marune); Harukanari haha no kuni (Ito); Asakusa no hada (Kimura); Bibo no umi (Hisamatsu); Fukkatsu ; Rashomon ( In the Woods ) (Kurosawa) (as Masago); Hi no tori (Tanaka); Itsuwareru seiso (Yoshimura) (as Kimicho)

Machiko Kyo
Machiko Kyo

1951

Koi no Oranda-zaka (Suzuki); Jiyu-gakko (Yoshimura) (as Yuri); Joen no hatoba ; Mesuinu (Kimura); Genji monogatari ( Tale of Genji ) (Yoshimura) (as Awaji no kami); Bakuto ichidai (Kimura)

1952

Asakusa kurenai-dan ; Nagasaki no uta wa wasureji ; Taki-no Shiraito (Nobuchi) (title role); Bijo to tozoku (Kimura); Daibutsu kaigen (Kinugusa) (as Maya-no-uri); Bijo no tokudane

1953

Ugetsu monogatari ( Ugetsu ; Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon after the Rain ) (Mizoguchi) (as Lady Wakasa); Kurohyo ; Ani imoto ( Older Brother, Younger Sister ) (Kimura) (as Mon); Jigokumon ( The Gate of Hell ) (Kinugasa) (as Kesa)

1954

Aru onna (Toyoda) (as Yoko); Aizen katsura (Kimura) (as Katsue Takaishi); Shunkin monogatari (Ito) (as Okoto); Asakusa no yoru (Shima); Sen-hime (Kimura); Bazoku geisha (Shima); Haru no uzumaki

1955

Bara ikutabika (Kinugasa); Yokihi ( Princess Yang Kwei-fei ) (Mizoguchi) (title role); Tojuro no koi (Mori); Shin josei mondo (Shima)

1956

Shin Heike monogatari: Yoshinaka o meguru san-nin no onna (Kinugasa) (as Tomoe); Niji ikutabi ; Akasen chitai ( Street of Shame ) (Mizoguchi) (as Mickie); Tsukigata Hanbeita (Kinugasa) (as Hagino); The Teahouse of the August Moon (Daniel Mann) (as Lotus Blossom)

1957

Itohan monogatari (Ito) (as Itohan); Stajio wa tenya wanya ; Odoriko ; Onna no hada ; Jigoku-bana ; Yoru no cho (Yoshimura); Ana ( The Pit ; The Hole ) (Ichikawa)

1958

Yurakucho de aimasho (Shima); Kanashimi wa onna dakeni (Shindo) (as the niece); Haha ; Chushingura (Watanabe) (as Rui); Osaka no onna (Kinugasa) (as Osen); Akasen no hi wa kiezu ; Yoru no sugao ; Musume no boken (Shima)

1959

Anata to watashi no ai-kotoba: Sayonara, konnichiwa ( Goodbye, Hello ) (Ichikawa); Sasameyuki (Shima); Onna to kaizoku (Ito); Yoru no togyo ; Jirocho Fuji (Mori); Kagi ( Odd Obsession ) (Ichikawa) (as Ikuko Kenmochi); Ukigusa ( Floating Weeds ; The Duckweed Story ; Drifting Weeds ) (Ozu) (as Sumiko)

1960

Jokei (Yoshimura); Ruten no oohi ; Bonchi (Ichikawa); Sannin no kaoyaku (Inoue); Ashi ni sawatta onna (Masumura); Kao ; Oden jigoku (Kimura)

1961

Konki (Yoshimura); Nuregame Botan ; Onna no kunsho (Yoshimura); Kodachi o tsukau onna ( Samurai Daughter ) (Ikehiro); Shaka ( Buddha ) (Misumi) (as Yashas Nandabala)

1962

Kurotokage ( Black Lizard ) (Inoue); Nakayoshi-ondo: Nippon ichi dayo ; Shin no shikotei ( The Great Wall ) (Tanaka); Onna no issho (Masumura) (as Kei Nunobiki)

1963

Jokei kazoku ; Dendai inchiki monogatari: Dotanuki

1964

Amai shiru ( Sweet Sweat ) (Toyoda)

1966

Tanin no kao ( The Face of Another ) (Teshigahara) (as the wife); Jinchoge ( The Daphne ) (Chiba) (as first daughter); Chiisai tobosha (Yinugasa) (as Yayoi Yamamura)

1969

Senba-zuru ( Thousand Cranes ) (Manumura) (as Chikako Kurimoto)

1970

Yabure kabure

1974

Kareinaru ichizoku ( The Family ) (Yamamoto)

1975

Kinkan-shoku (Yamamoto) (as Mrs. Prime Minister)

1976

Yoba (Imai) (title role); Otoko wa tsuraiyo: Torajiro junjo-shishu ( Tora's Pure Love ) (Yamada)

1985

Kesho ( Make Up ) (Ikehiro)



Publications


On KYO: articles—

Trumball, Robert, "Rising Star of Japan," in New York Times Magazine , 24 April 1955.

"Industry: Beauty from Osaka," in Newsweek (New York), 10 October 1955.

Richie, Donald, "The Face of '63—Japan," in Films and Filming (London), July 1963.

Gillett, J., "Machiko Kyo," in Film Dope (London), March 1985.


* * *


Machikyo Kyo was perhaps the first Japanese actress to be "groomed" as a star through the more typically Western attention to glamour. Drawing upon her background as a dancer, her sex appeal was emphasized by Daiei and her early director Masaichi Nagata, and she quickly became a successful actress for the studio. Her style was unique on the Japanese screen in its sensuality and unbounded eroticism. The most representative of her early roles is as a devilish girl trifling with her lover in Chijin no ai , based on the novel by Tanizaki. She seemed at her best at portraying the sensual women in his novels, as she later demonstrated in Ichikawa's modernistic adaptation of Kagi , incorporating a comic flair into her role as the young and stimulating wife.

Typecast because of her alluring appearance, she successfully extended her range in Kurosawa's Rashomon , which brought her and the Japanese cinema international attention. Her explosive performance in the role of a temperamental woman who is both shockingly assertive and audaciously seductive startled the public and critics. Her next great success came in Yoshimura's Itsuwareru seiso , a remake of Mizoguchi's prewar masterpiece Gion no shimai . Kyo played with enthusiasm a geisha attempting to vanquish men who exploit women. Her reputation at the studio was gradually established through her work in a series of fine films for Yoshimura and Kimura.

For Mizoguchi, Kyo played the role of the ghost princess who bewitches a potter in Ugetsu monogatari . Employing the type of movement used in Noh drama, she successfully conveyed the chilling atmosphere typical of the ghost genre within the Noh repertoire, combining a horrifying effect with a mysterious eroticism. She also collaborated with Mizoguchi in the title role of Yokihi , and as a Westernized prostitute in his final film Akasen chitai ; at one moment while simultaneously eating, smoking, chewing gum, and talking, she outrageously summarizes both her character's tactile eroticism as well as her own considerable comic skills.

Kyo established an international reputation with these performances, as well as in Kinugasa's Jigokumon , to which she contributed a visually stunning portrayal as a tragic aristocratic wife. Her first American film, The Teahouse of the August Moon , was also her first comedy, but her success in it inexplicably led to no other American films, and even for a short while seemed to reduce her popularity in Japan.

Her performances in Ozu's Ukigusa and in Toyoda's Amai shiru show her mature acting style, which combines her passion with a new contemplative quality. Her role in the latter film (which earned her many awards) is particularly sublime, a depiction of a woman at the bottom of society, managing to survive despite her suffering and victimization. She further expanded her range by undertaking complicated new roles. These include the wife in Teshigahara's Tanin no kao , whose husband secretly undergoes plastic surgery to alter his appearance. She nevertheless recognizes him, and allows him to seduce her. Opposed to such characters is her portrayal of an extremely ambitious woman in Satsuo Yamamoto's political entertainment film, Kareinaru ichizoku . Through her unforgettable work with many of Japan's greatest directors, and since many of her films were distributed internationally, Kyo remains one of the most diverse and recognizable talents in the Japanese cinema.

—Kyoko Hirano, updated by Corey K. Creekmur

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