by Old_Anime_Lady, February 4, 2021

We decided to make a new type of article to support the Watch challenge that each of us from the old "ASK MDL" team would write separately but on the same topic if possible. This also means that outside life constraints won't hold back that whole article, only some countries.

I was originally going to just write about the 1940s, but since I have only seen 3 titles from that time period, I combined to include the 1950's. Just because something is old does not make it a classic, nor does it make it instantly good.  BUT the fact we still have it available 70 - 80 years later does mean that it has some value.

I am based in America, so the availability on streaming services may differ for your location.

Besides "Movies from the '40s and '50s" and "Title from Japan" I will include other requirements these titles cover in the watch challenge.

 Sanshiro Sugata

Release Date: Mar 25, 1943

Duration: 1 hr. 37 min.


A break down on why its remembered today.

Can be viewed on the Criterion ChannelMy Rating:  7/10
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 19 users

This was Kurosawa Akira's first movie, and he came out swinging. There were so many restrictions placed on filmmakers as they were no longer allowed to make period or Jideki films during the occupation.  So instead Kurosawa turned to tell dramatic stories about people who used to fight. It a story about fighting tradition and trying to forge a new path.
This title covers the "Martials Arts from Japan" or a "title from 1940" criteria of the watch challenge.

Drunken Angel

Release Date: Apr 27, 1948

Duration: 1 hr. 38 min.

Opening clip

Can be viewed on 

My Rating:  6.5/10
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 71 users

Drunken Angel is about a gangster and a doctor who become friends. While I liked it, it is a slice of life and not my favorite genre. I still highly recommend it for those that enjoy a slower-paced life story. There is another reason I will put it under a spoiler: Bleak Ending.
This title covers the  "Title with Medical Staff", "Title with a Criminal" and "post-occupation".

Late Spring

Release Date: Sep 13, 1949

Duration: 1 hr. 48 min.

3 Reasons to watch

Can be viewed

My Rating:  7.5/10
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 104 users

Good Japanese girls get married and move out of their parents' house, but Noriko wants none of that. She would rather stay single, her own woman while taking care of her father. Everyone from family to friends tries to convince her matrimony is the best way to a happy life.  
Despite being a slice of life, Noriko's spunkiness proves that no matter the age nor era, there will always be strong-minded women who do what they want.
 This title covers the" young adults as the main cast " and " Single Parent".


Release Date: Aug 25, 1950

Duration: 1 hr. 28 min.


Can be viewed at
Amazon Prime Video
My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 691 users
Rashomon tells the story of a crime that happened from several witness' point of view. Who is telling the truth and who is lying?
This covers the "Criminal" requirement.

During the course of me writing the article, I also watched Snow Trail to meet my 1940's requirement.

The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice

Release Date: Oct 1, 1952

Duration: 1 hr. 55 min.


Can be viewed on Youtube

My Rating:  6.5/10
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 24 users

This is once again just not my kind of story. The wife is not happy with being married, and the subplot is a rebellion against arranged marriage. What I did like was that the story itself is timeless and could very well be one from this era, not just the 1940s. It is a human story that spans all time.
This covers "Median age".


Release Date: Oct 9, 1952

Duration: 2 hr. 23 min.


Can be viewed on:
Amazon Prime

My Rating:  7/10
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 249 users

The more I watch from Japan, the more I appreciate that I watched this. There are other movies and drama based on this concept. The dad's storyline in Inuyashiki being one off the top of my head. This is the story of a man who decides to do something with his life in his later years—the true unsung hero.
The req. this one covers is a spoiler "Terminal illness",

Tokyo Story

Release Date: Nov 3, 1953

Duration: 2 hr. 16 min.


Can be watched on
Your Rating:
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 280 users

This is a slice of life (hence my score), but this shows that family is not always blood-related, and sometimes we take our parents for granted.

Seven Samurai

Release Date: Nov 19, 1954

Duration: 3 hr. 27 min.


Can be watched On

My Rating:  7.5/10
Ratings: 8.4/10 from 1,135 users 

What can I say about the epic known as "Seven Samurai" that has not always been said?  It is excellent in terms of helping a small village and standing up against overwhelming odds. The downside, it is VERY LONG. Lotsa sword fights and Snarky Ronin.
Reqs covered: "Longer than 180 minutes".

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

Release Date: Sep 26, 1954

Duration: 1 hr. 33 min.


Can be watched on
Amazon Prime

My Rating:
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 68 users

Release Date: Jul 12, 1955

Duration: 1 hr. 43 min.


Can be watched on
Amazon Prime

My Rating:
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 42 users

Release Date: Jan 3, 1956

Duration: 1 hr. 45 min.


Can be watched on
Amazon Prime

My Rating:
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 38 users

This is the story of Musashi Miyamoto told in 3 movies, his story is much like  Rurouni Kenshin. Based on the true events of Miyamoto Musashi.  I love swords and samurai, so these were enjoyable for me.
Reqs covered - "Based on a real person".

Early Spring

Release Date: Jan 29, 1956

Duration: 2 hr. 24 min.


Can be watched on

My Rating:  8/10

Ratings: 7.1/10 from 10 users

This is another story about marriage, a bad marriage. What I liked about it was you saw the entire process. Every emotion, every decision. She did not just accept things as they were. Nowadays, people focus on want to see strong women portrayed, but each of us has a different idea of what that is. For me, strength comes from how you deal with what life gives you.

The Hidden Fortress

Release Date: Dec 28, 1958

Duration: 2 hr. 19 min.


Can Be Watched On

My Rating:  8/10

Ratings: 8.0/10 from 187 users 

Another strong woman that is not going to put up with the men around her.  She still needs help and a bodyguard. This is one of my favorite Kurosawa/Mifune movies ever, the beginning is super slow, but once you get about 30 minutes in, the action starts. On a side note, The Last Princess is a very, very loose adaption of this movie and not nearly as good.

These are the ones I have seen, but what have you seen? Can you recommend any? Any country at all and I will link this article if anyone looks for recommendations.  Thank you so much for commenting and as always don't forget to heart my article if you liked it. : )

Edited by: Yuanwei (1st editor), Aya97 (2nd editor)