Sarang bang sonnim omoni (My Mother and Her Guest). 1961. South Korea. Directed by Shin Sang-ok. Screenplay by Lim Hee-lae. With Kim Jin-kyu, Choi Eun-hee, Kim Hee-gap. In Korean; English subtitles. 103 min.
In a 50-year moviemaking career too insane to be believed, Shin Sang-ok brought international popularity to South Korean cinema in the 1950s and ’60s before he was kidnapped by North Korea in 1978. There, over the next seven years, he made musicals and melodramas that advanced Kim Il-sung’s Juche principles of self-reliance. In 1986, Shin fled with his wife Choi Eun-hee, the legendary star of his movies, to the United States, where he produced the successful Three Ninjas series in Hollywood. He ultimately returned to South Korea in the 1990s to make his last two features. My Mother and Her Guest, from 1961, was Shin’s first truly great film, a quiet melodrama about a widowed mother who falls for her tenant, a painter from the city.
Archival 35mm print from The Museum of Modern Art