Nasanu Naka (1932)

Countries - Japan  |  
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Two women vie for the love of a little girl in this Japanese melodrama, dating from the latter days of the nation's silent film era. An unstable woman who has recently divorced her husband decides she wants to pursue a career as an actress in Hollywood. Convinced that her child would only be a burden as she chases stardom in America, the would-be actress gives the baby to her former husband, and when he remarries shortly afterward, his new wife quickly bonds with the infant girl. Seven years later, the husband's business has fallen on hard times as Japan sinks into a depression, and the birth mother returns from Hollywood, where she's enjoyed surprising success. The actress demands that custody of her daughter be returned to her, but the stepmother is not willing to give up the child without a fight, and when a family court grants custody to the natural mother, the woman who has spend years with the youngster responds by kidnapping the girl. One of the earliest surviving films from the influential Japanese director Mikio Naruse, Nasanu Naka (aka Not Blood Relations) was based on a widely read novel by Yanagawa Shun'yo, which was serialized in one of Japan's most popular magazines between 1912 and 1913.