Kinugasa, Teinosuke (1896–1982) By Heitzman, Kendall
Kinugasa Teinosuke (1 January 1896–26 February 1982) was a Japanese actor and film director, most famous for his experimental films of the 1920s and art-house classics of the 1950s. He started as a specialist in oyama female roles, a tradition carried over from Japanese theater to film, and turned to directing as the convention faded in the 1910s and 1920s. After directing films for the major film studios Nikkatsu and Makino, Kinugasa went independent in 1926 with the New Impressionist Film League, his collaboration with members of the New Impressionist School of modernist writers led by Yokomitsu Riichi and Kawabata Yasunari. Kinugasa produced his most famous film, the experimental, avant-garde Kurutta ichipeiji [A Page of Madness] (1926), from a script by Kawabata and others. Despite its secure location in global film history, A Page of Madness was not a financial success, and Kinugasa began working for Shōchiku, at first producing noteworthy films such as Jujiro [Crossroads] (1928) that, while experimental in nature, never again rose to the same level of high-modernist abstraction. Kinugasa had a long career at Shōchiku and then Daiei as a director of period dramas. His films Yukinojo henge [An Actor’s Revenge] (1935) and Jigokumon [Gate of Hell] (1953)—both starring Kinugasa’s frequent collaborator, Hasegawa Kazuo—are representative of his middle and late career. Gate of Hell won a Palme d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival and received an Academy Honorary Award, the precursor category to Best Foreign Language Film.