Yamanaka, Sadao (1909–1938) By Gerow, Aaron
Sadao Yamanaka was a Japanese film director known for bringing a modern, critical touch to period films in the 1930s. Born in Kyoto, he entered the film industry in 1927 and directed his first film at age 22. He soon became known for his deviations from the period film genre, presenting samurai who avoided violence or, when he transitioned to sound, dialogue in modern Japanese. His stories could vary from the parodic (Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakumanryo no tsubo [The Million Ryo Pot, 1935]) to the tragic (Machi no irezumimono [The Town’s Tattooed Man, 1935]), but his film style, while drawing much from Hollywood continuity editing, developed a poetic and humanistic concern for the material conditions of everyday life.