I first saw Bodyguard Swordsmen; aka, Vanquished Foe (Hitokiri gasa, Toei, 1963) in revival at the Toyo Cinema in Seattle as the second feature, together with another cinemascope & color film, Kuruwa sodachi (Red Light District, Toei, 1964).
This was from the same director, Junya Sato, of Proof of a Man (Ningen no shomei, 1977), the all-star disaster film Bullet Train (Shinkansen daibakuhua, 1975), & a number of yakuza films.
Sato was kind of a mid-level director who attempted to bring something artful to films that were essentially commercial product, but only occasionally succeeded. Sometimes he failed extremely miserably, as in the "western" starring Ken Takakura, The Drifting Avenger (Koya no toseinin, 1968). With Kuruwa sodachi, he had one of his more artful films with a fine cast.
Whereas the samurai film Hitokiri gasa has since become available subtitled on dvd from a grey market source, Kuruwa sodachi is only available on dvd without subtitles.
So I've not been able to reaquaint myself with the film, & have only faded memories of it, together with a few old notes I took after seeing it at Toyo, which I'll share here, as I can't find that anyone else has reviewed it in English & a little info is better than none.
Set in the pleasure district of Kyoto, Tamiko (Yoshiko Mita, in her first lead role) is a young girl attending high school by day, & training as a geisha at night.
She sees her future as an entertainer, not a prostitute, & she expects a happy marriage with a medical student, Yasuke (Katsuo Nakamura), a sweet fellow she deeply loves.
But there'd be no story if things didn't go awry. She is expelled from school, & sees the man she loves turn from her in favor of a much more advantageous match. Falling further prey to selectively enforced anti-prostitution laws, she's forced to become the courtesan-mistress of the disgusting Tsukada (Seiji Miyaguchi).
After endless miseries, she's finally happy to be arrested for the murder of Tsukada. She's actually innocent of the crime, but doesn't care, as prison seems to her an improvement over the red light district.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl