Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs)
Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs) (1963)

Filmmaker Mikio Naruse takes a characteristic dour look at life in When A Woman Ascends the Stairs. The central character is a barmaid, who works day and night to avoid being thrown out into the street. She knows that, if she loses her job,… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: June 25, 1963
DVD Release Date: February 20, 2007
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Critic Score: 100% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Trevor Johnston
Time Out

A new classic.

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Tom Robey
Daily Telegraph (UK)

Sprint, don't walk, up those BFI steps to see it.

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Jamie Russell

The money-grubbing realities of late 1950s Tokyo make for riveting viewing in Naruse's naturalistic classic. These are no ordinary memories of a geisha.

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Anthony Quinn
Independent (UK)

It's also elegantly shot and scored; all that's missing is a touch of humour.

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Peter Bradshaw

The new retrospective of Mikio Naruse at London's BFI Southbank will do much to restore the reputation of a neglected Japanese director, and this 1960 film is a heartbreaking study, to be compared with Mizoguchi's Life of Oharu.

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Anna Smith

Patience will be rewarded.

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Total Film

A heartbreaker.

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Wendy Ide
Times (UK)

Shot in luminous black and white cinemascope, this is an exquisitely understated study of the plight of a young woman in an unforgiving society.

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David Parkinson
Empire Magazine

Lustrously photographed in monochrome by Masai Tamai, this is essentially a Tokyo twist on Nights of Cabiria (1957), with Mikio Naruse and Hideko Takamine replacing Fellina and Masina's kooky optimism with a fatalistic humanism.

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Flixster Audience Score: 92% Flixster User Reviews
Keiko Aya
If you have seen it tell me you didn't have tears coming down throw this heartbraking film??? This classic is surely one of my top 30 and it's nothing… More
Luke Baldock
My first Naruse film and certainly wont be my last. He bridges the gap between Ozu's dissection of Japanese women of the time and Kurosawa's… More
Stella Dallas
this is my first experience of naruse and in fact his only film that's widely available in the u.s. this is a shame as i found it to be a masterpiece on… More
Walter M.
[font=Century Gothic]In "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs," Keiko(Hideko Takamine) is a widow who works as a hostess at the Lilac Bar in the Ginza… More
danny d
a patient, emotional, and highly effective portrayal of the struggle of a virtuous woman in a not so virtuous world. the film features some of the great and… More