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Film / Clothes of Deception

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Clothes of Deception is a 1951 film from Japan directed by Kozaburo Yoshimura.

It centers around two sisters in Kyoto. Kimicho (Machiko Kyo) is a geisha. But while she dresses in kimonos and does the whole deal with dancing and conversation, she is really a High-Class Call Girl, with multiple clients instead of one patron, and a hard-nosed attitude about getting the money up front. Her sister Taeko is representative of the modern Japanese woman, as she wears Western-style clothes and works in an office.

Yet while Kimicho looks like old Japan and Takeo looks like forward-thinking, postwar Japan, the sisters tend to act like the reverse. Kimicho is scornful and disgusted when her mother Kiju, a far more traditional geisha, mortgages the house to bail her late patron Mr. Watanabe's son Hideo (also Kimicho's half-brother) out of a financial jam. Taeko for her part is in love with her co-worker Koji, but Koji's mother Chiyo categorically forbids the marriage.


  • As You Know:
    • Some dialogue in Chiyo's tea house between the residents confirms that not only is Chiyo herself a geisha, but years ago she and Kiju were rivals for Mr. Watanabe's patronage. Kiju won, which is why Chiyo hates her so much and why she refuses to sanction Koji's marriage to Taeko.
    • Similar dialogue between women of the neighborhood, as Taeko whizzes by on a bicycle, confirms that Taeko works in a tourism office. Amusingly, one of the neighborhood women thinks it's "a waste" that Taeko didn't follow her family's tradition and become a geisha.
  • Bathtub Scene: Taeko seeks out Kimicho and finds her in a communal bath house, which features a lot of Toplessness from the Back women in a scene that was unusually racy for Japanese cinema of the era.
  • Cat Fight: Chiyo, who lost Mr. Watanabe to Kiju a couple of decades ago, finds herself losing Mr. Isehama to younger, sexier Kimicho in the present. Her fury at this leads to a wild Cat Fight (including biting!) that Mr. Isehama has to break up.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Yamashita, the pathetic loser who appears in the opening scene, where Kimicho is dumping him because he can't pay her anymore. The climax has a vengeful, deranged Yamashita show up at the theater and chase Kimicho with a knife.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the opening scene a desperate, pleading Yamashita begs for Kimicho's time and attention. She brusquely tells him that they are through, because he can't pay her anymore. She is established as a hard-nosed operator who is in it for the money, as opposed to the stereotypical delicate, feminine geisha.
  • Geisha: Kimicho dresses like a geisha, and does the dancing to music and whatnot, but she's basically erased the distinction between geisha and High-Class Call Girl. Her mother Kiju is a more old-school geisha, who was the devoted mistress of Mr. Watanabe. She still feels loyalty towards and a duty to Mr. Watanabe's legitimate family, much to a cynical Kimicho's disgust.
  • High-Class Call Girl: What Kimicho really is, even though she acts as a geisha. Her mother notes that she has multiple clients (sometimes more than one in a night!), while a traditional geisha would be The Mistress to a single patron. She is also much more frank about the real nature of her relationships with her clients. When one man hesitates about coming up with the money Kimicho needs to save her mother's house, Kimicho says "No sex for you!".
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Fukuya coughs in her first scene in Kiju's home. Sure enough, soon after she collapses. It turns out she's in the final stages of tuberculosis.
  • Momma's Boy: Koji, who loves Taeko, but is basically a wimp. He quails before his forbidding mother Chiyo when Chiyo forbids the marriage, and shamefacedly breaks up with Taeko.
  • Open-Door Opening: The film opens with Kimicho throwing open a curtain and window to the outside. Unlike most examples of this trope Kimicho is on the same side of the opening as the camera.
  • Stealing from the Till: Apparently a chronic problem. A desperate Hideo goes to Kiju for help after workers at his business embezzled from him and left him on the brink of ruin. And towards the end Yamashita reveals to Kimicho that he was fired from his job for stealing from the till, having stolen hundreds of thousands of yen to pay her.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Kimicho is appalled when her mother mortgages their home to bail out Hideo, Mr. Watanabe's legitimate son and Kimicho's half-brother. While the Watanabe family is grateful, there's no suggestion they're going to pay her back, forcing Kimicho to hustle to find 200,000 yen to prevent losing their home.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Some surprising Fanservice for 1951 Japan when Taeko finds Kimicho at a bathhouse, which is full of naked young women topless from the back.