Uchida Tomu (内田吐夢)

Tomu UCHIDA (real name Jojiro; April 26, 1898 - August 7, 1970) was a Japanese film director active during the Taisho and Showa periods. He is a master of Japanese cinema who created numerous works since the creation of the Japanese film industry until the postwar period. His sons are Yusaku UCHIDA - the former Toei head of Toei Ikuta Studios, and the film director Issaku UCHIDA.

Biography and personal profile

Tomu UCHIDA was born as the son of a confectionary shop owner in Okayama City on April 26.

Age 14:
He left school during his 2nd year of junior high school to serve as an apprentice at a piano factory in Yokohama City. He was nicknamed 'Tom' during his time as a juvenile delinquent and later went on to use this as his stage name.

Age 22:
Tomu joined Taisho Katsuei, which had recently been founded in Yokohama, where he served as an assistant to Thomas Kurihara. He later also worked as an actor, appearing in several films including a starring role in the comedy "Gantan no Satsuei." He associated with Tokihiko OKADA during this time.

Age 24:
Tomu moved to Makino Kyoiku Eiga Seisakujo (film studio) where he made his directorial debut alongside Teinosuke KINUGASA with the film "Aa, Konishi Junsa" (Oh, Police Officer Konishi). However, he went on to join a troupe of traveling performers, living life on the road at places such as Asakusa as an itinerant entertainer and manual laborer. This experience had a great effect on his work.

Age 28:
Joined Nikkatsu Kyoto Taishogun Film Studios.

Age 29:
Promoted to director, concentrating on the comedy genre.

Age 30:
Scouted Takako IRIE and shot "Kechinbo-Choja" (A stingy millionaire).

Age 31:
Directed "Ikeru Ningyo" (A living doll) with Isamu KOSUGI cast in the lead role. He went on to use Kosugi's strong character to produce a succession of 'tendency film' masterpieces incorporating the leftist ideology popular at the time.

Age 34:
Along with Minoru MURATA, Daisuke ITO (film director) and Tomotaka TASAKA, he left Nikkatsu and established a new film company but this was soon dissolved.

Age 35:
Tomu made the move to Shinko Cinema but eventually returned to Nikkatsu Studio. It was there that he created films such as "Kagirinaki Zeshin" (Endless Progress) and "Tsuchi" (soil), which would later be considered masterpieces.

Age 43:
He left Nikkatsu due to disagreements over the direction that the company was taking and attempted to establish a new company but after the failure of this venture he relocated to Manchuria where he joined the Manchukuo Film Association.

Age 47:
After the defeat of Imperial Japan at the end of World War II, he was unable to return home and remained in China during the midst of the communist revolution.

Age 56:
Tomu was repatriated and joined Toei.

Age 57:
He resumed his role as director with the film "Chiyari Fuji" (A Bloody Spear on Mount Fuji).

In addition to major works such as "Dai-bosatsu Toge" (the Daibosatsu pass) and "Miyamoto Musashi," he also created films exposing the disadvantaged members of contemporary Japanese society including "Mori to Mizuumi no Matsuri" (A festival of the forest and the lake) which dealt with the issue of the Ainu people and "Kiga Kaikyo" (Starvation strait) - a tale of suspense by Tsutomu MINAKAMI set against the backdrop of the burakumin issue.

Age 67:
Tomu protested against the cuts that Toei made to "Kiga Kaikyo" due to industry-related issues (this version was shown in most cinemas) and requested that his name be removed from the credits. This issue resulted in Tomu leaving Toei.

During on-location shooting for "Shinken Shobu" (a fighting with a real sword), the sequel to "Miyamoto Musashi" written by Daisuke ITO, Tomu collapsed and was admitted to hospital. He made a brief recovery and continued shooting.

Tomu UCHIDA passed away on August 7. Died at the age of 72.