The fact that Criterion had only carried is one Mikio Naruse title, When A Woman Ascends the Stairs, until the 2011 release of Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse (Flunky, Work Hard / No Blood Relation / Apart from You / Every-Night Dreams / Street Without End) bodes well. In my opinion Naruse is worthy of being included in the pantheon of great Japanese directors like Kurosawa, Ozu, and Mizoguchi. The British equivalent of Criterion, Eureka!, has released several worthy Naruse films, hopefully Criterion will do so as well in the near future, because Naruse deserve a larger audience. Some of this might have to do with the fact that many of his early films have been lost, but Criterion has managed to find several of those early ones that still exist. Criterion has commissioned noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz to create original scores for these films as well that I think add o the enjoyment. Again this collection has informative essays from Criterion staff writer Michael Koresky. The first volume, contains two films: Flunky Work Hard (1931) and No Blood Relation (1932). Flunky Work Hard is a 28 minute short that anticipates Ozu's I Was Born, But... (1932 in the story of a working-class father and son. It is a nansensu comedy that is essentially a comic tragedy. There is a sequence where there is a montage with prismatic effects, split screens, and super impositions triggered by shocking news that exhibits Naruse's experimentalism at this stage. This sort of experimentalism has been completely excised in his later works from what I have seen. No Blood Relation is a typical female driven melodrama that would become his forte in his later years. The story of a woman who leaves her family only to achieve great acclaim as an actress in America, who then tries to reclaim her daughter and thugs intervene. This one has some impressive location scenes and clever plot was adapted from a shimpa play by longtime Ozu collaborator Kogo Noda. There is some camera zooming experimentation as well as the use of deep focus that is not seen in late Naruse films. Apart From You (1933) is yet another female driven melodrama about a household with an aging geisha and her wayward son who resents his mother's job and a young geisha that was forced into the profession by an alcoholic father and spineless mother. There is more of the experimental zooming and camera affects in this film as well, as well as interesting outdoor locations and interestingly framed shot inside. Every-night Dreams (1933) is another geisha drama where a single mother is struggling to raise a son on her own, until the father returns to try and make amends for not being able to support his family. It is similar to No Blood Relation, but perhaps less melodramatic. The mother is clearly stronger than the husband and will be a survivor. Street Without End (1934) would be Naruse's last silent film and his last for Shochiku. It seems that this film was based on the lurid tale of a tea hostess, but in Naruse's hands he manages to find a stirring melodrama rather than focusing on the exploitative elements of the tale. A working class girl falls for a rich man after an auto accident, while turning down an offer to become a film actress. There is some bold commentary on the restrictiveness of conventional marriage, the tea hostesses brother asks: "Think you'll be happy as a bourgeois housewife?" and a direct inter-title that says: "Even today, feudalistic notions of 'family' crush the pure love of young people in Japan." His next film for what would become Toho Studios was Wife! Be Like A Rose!, which would not only win Kinema junpo's first prize, but would also be theatrically shown in America. Naruse rose in prominence in the 50s when his camera would move less and less severe cuts in his editing, but the tales of woe and suffering would continue.