Come and enjoy the spectacular World of Japanese Cinema at The Japan Foundation, New Delhi.
A hot summer night in Toyama prefecture is the setting for a chain of events that would almost lead one woman to her death and another to professional disgrace. Fukutaro Shirakawa, the wealthy sake brewer, belongs to a moneyed family, who never quite got over his marriage to the beautiful, former bar girl, Kumako. On that hot summer’s night, the couple’s car went into the sea from a wharf on the seafront and Kumako alone survived to tell the tale of her husband’s death. Kumako was only slightly injured and this, coupled with the vast sum she expects to reap from a recently acquired insurance policy, lead the authorities to suspect murder in the first degree. It was a well-known fact that she only married him for his money and the family move heaven and earth to create a web of suspicion that will send her to the gallows and the family fortune back to them. They are aided in the fight by the astute newspaper reporter, Akitani. A man whose reputation for investigative journalism only adds another notch to the rope, that is slowly tightening around’ the heck of Kumako. The conviction by insinuation is further prodded along when the impetuous Kumako holds a press conference, ostensibly to clear her good name. But it turns into a shouting match between her and the reporters after certain unsavoury facts about her past are dredged up for all to see. Kumako had a lover, a small time gangster, and their association went back to the days when she herself operated both inside and outside the law. She hires a lawyer, Harayama, just prior to her arrest for murder one. Because he doesn’t specialize in criminal law, he seeks the assistance of the respected attorney, Okamura. Okamura realizes that this case could be a negative influence on his career, especially if he proves her innocent, when everybody knows she’s guilty! So he demurs.
No decent lawyer would handle the case so it fell on the urbane woman lawyer, Ritsuko Sahara, to become her court appointed defender. As a lawyer Ritsuko had a duty to her client but that didn’t mean she had to like her, after all, nobody seemed to like the brassy, grating Kumako. A cloud of personal dislike hangs over the lawyer-client relationship and Ritsuko has to summon all her professional reserve and detatchment, to prevent a rift before the facts are put to the court. Circumstantial evidence pointed to guilt but the only thing lacking was the hard evidence needed to gain a conviction. Ritsuko’s untiring search for the truth led her to the fact that Kumako was innocent! In spite of the relative’s convictions and in spite of the newspaper’s denunciations she believed that it was a suicide on the part of the husband. Setting out to prove her belief in a court of law put Ritsuko in the unenviable position of fighting everyone’s pre-conceptions. Her worst enemy was her client, the woman who upset everybody and whose motives in marriage were obviously the accumulation of money and the continuation of her affair with the gangster. After an exciting battle in court Ritsuko proves beyond a doubt that the husband had intended to uphold the honour of his family by killing both himself and Kumako who was bringing only shame to his good name. A pair of shoes and a spanner jammed between the brake and the car floor were his insurance that both of them would die in the black seas of the wharf. Kumako is found innocent and Ritsuko’s handling of the case give us confidence that justice is served only when all are judged equally and fairly.