Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Japan, 1961. Kurosawa Production Co., Toho Company. Story by Akira Kurosawa, Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima. Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa. Produced by Akira Kurosawa. Music by Masaru Sato. Production Design by Yoshiro Muraki. Costume Design by Yoshiro Muraki. Film Editing by Akira Kurosawa.
Akira Kurosawa was inspired primarily by American westerns when he wrote and directed this marvelous film, so it’s no surprise that it was adapted as a cowboy western eight years later in A Fistful of Dollars (and then again as an action film for Bruce Willis called Last Man Standing). Toshirô Mifune shines as a mysterious samurai warrior who enters a dusty town that is being run by two bickering gang families. He decides to use their hatred of each other to his own advantage, playing both sides as a hired fighter in order to rid the place of its corruption. The visuals are stunning, the direction, as usual, superb, and the pacing a lot snappier than many of Kurosawa’s later grand epics. It also features a lot more humour than many of his more action-oriented films generally had.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Costume Design-BW
Venice Film Festival Award: Best Actor (Toshiro Mifune)