"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Friday, January 1, 2010

Toho's Siren of the 1960s: January 1, 1937


A private 1960 portrait taken by her father when she was 23.

The eternal diva or Toho's fantasy films of the 1960s, or as the Japanese refer to her as the "Madonna", was born as Maya Igarashi in the city of Sanjo, Niigata prefecture where her family ran a photography business. She was a member of the Drama Club while attending Azuma Sanjo High School, and in her Senior year, was the star of their annual stage production. She made her screen debut in the 1957 Shochiku Studios production of Minoru Shibuya's CRAZY SOCIETY.

In 1958, Mizuno was signed by Toho Studios, and a year later, became an alumni of the 8th Graduating Class of Toho's Theatrical Training School. Mizuno went on to appear, and then star in, numerous films at the studio, such as Hiroshi Inagaki's THE THREE TREASURES (1959), Ishiro Honda's SENIORS, JUNIORS AND CO-WORKERS (1959), Kihachi Okamoto's WESTWARD DESPERADO (1960), Okamoto's BIG SHOTS DIE AT DAWN (1961), Hideo Suzuki's WOMAN OF DESIGN (1962), Okamoto's WARRING CLANS (1963), Jun Fukuda's BLOOD AND DIAMONDS (1964), and many others.

But, Ms. Mizuno is perhaps best known outside of Japan for her fantasy film roles, including the Ishiro Honda films, as Takiko Nomura in GORATH (1962), Maimi Sekiguchi in MATANGO (1963), Sueko Togami in FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965), Miss Namikawa in MONSTER ZERO (1965) and Akemi Togawa in THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). Jun Fukuda, who had worked with Mizuno in several crime films, cast her to replace Noriko Takahashi as sarong-clad Dayo in GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966).

She has continued acting until today, and recently returned to Toho's fantasy films with featured roles in GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002) and GODZILLA FINAL WARS (2005). In October of 2009, she took on the lead role of Dr. Sano in the Toho stage adaption of Honda's 1960 film, THE HUMAN VAPOR. Director Honda said this about the actress in a 1991 interview, "Mizuno was amazing; when she stepped into a role, she actually became the character she was playing!" As an actress, she certainly had it all, and may her eternal, celluloid Je ne sais quoi continue to fascinate future generations of movie fans!


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to my first crush.

Prof. Grewbeard said...

happy Birthday Ms. MIzuno, i'm so jealous that Mr. Tsuchiya got to hug your derriere in Matango!...

Phantom of Pulp said...

She is a sublime lady.

Evan Brehany said...

I wish her a happy B-Day. Though of all of her preformances, I loved her the most in "Mantango".