Friday, July 1, 2011

High and Low

Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1963, bw (9.0*)
Excellent crime thriller from the Japanese master director Kurosawa, in the tradition of his excellent police procedural Stray Dog (1949). A millionaire factory manager, played by Tashiro Mifune, has mortgaged everything to buy just enough stock to take control of his shoe company in order to maintain his high quality standards while other greedy board members insist on putting out a flimsy cheap shoe that will not last a year and forcing their customers to rebuy shoes more often.

That very day, the executive's son is playing with his chauffeur's son and they change cowboy and outlaw outfits, and a kidnapper abducts the wrong child by accident, but still demands a hefty ransom or he'll kill the child. So now Mifune must weigh the dilemna of losing his company by paying the money he needs to save the child, or sacrificing a child, who's not his own anyway, to save his career.

This film also becomes a police procedural as they try to narrow down the kidnappers location in a race against time, as they feel the child is likely to be killed in either case. Other than his classic masterpiece Seven Samurai, my favorite films of Kurosawa's are these gorgeous crime films in black and white, which are detective stories filmed like 40's film noir. His film Stray Dog caused a huge wave of popularity for these films in Japan in the 50's.

This is now # 449 on our 2011 Edition of Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net (all polls)


stanwong,  August 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

I really love this movie a lot too. I think Criterion did much to enhance it. The story is wrought with tension, suspense, and superb filmmaking. A must see for anyone who admires classic films or Kurosawa/ Mifune!

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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