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DRUNKEN ANGEL

4:20   10:15

Wednesday, October 23

酔いどれ天使 (Yoidore tenshi)

Director Akira Kurosawa
Cast Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Michiyo Kogure
Screenplay Akira Kurosawa, Keinosuke Uekusa | Cinematography Takeo Itô
1948 | Japan | 35mm | approx. 98 min. | In Japanese with English subtitles

In his slum clinic nestled next to a festering sump, ruined-by-booze sawbones Takashi Shimura casually scissors open the wound of his latest patient, a greasily-coiffed yakuza Toshirô Mifune – but does Mifune also have tuberculosis? Obviously not a good affliction for the business he’s in – especially when it turns out the Big Boss is back after all, and ready to reclaim his gang and moll. This tortured, Dostoyevskyan encounter amid postwar ruins was the beginning of the legendary Kurosawa-Mifune collaboration. Said Kurosawa later: “Shimura played the doctor beautifully, but I found that I couldn’t control Mifune. When I saw this I let him play the part freely. I didn’t want to smother that vitality.” – a vitality that encompasses his throttling Shimura, frenetically dancing to “The Jungle Boogie,” and going toe to toe in a white-paint-strewn final showdown. Kurosawa: “In this picture I finally discovered myself. It was my picture: I was doing it and no on else.” Not seen here until 1960, this was Kurosawa’s first Kinema Junpo “Best One” award winner (Japan’s Oscar equivalent), highlighted by Mifune’s wheezing reel through the neighborhood in counterpoint to the “Cuckoo Waltz.”