THE BAD SLEEP WELL
WARUI YATSU HODO YOKU NEMURU
1960, Janus Films, 151 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s uncompromising exposé of Japanese white-collar crime is a startlingly bleak saga. Toshiro Mifune infiltrates the family of a corrupt businessman (Masayuki Mori) who had Mifune’s father, one of his underlings, murdered. Mifune, having switched identities with a friend (Takeshi Kato), worms his way into Mori’s household by marrying his crippled daughter (Kyoko Kagawa) and becoming best friends with his son (Tatsuya Mihashi) - both of whom are decent and don’t approve of their father’s nefarious connections with dishonest politicians and the underworld. Ironically, it is Mifune’s actually falling in love with Kagawa that lessens his resolve, which sociopath Mori ultimately manipulates to his advantage for the brutally realistic and pitiless conclusion. In Japanese with English subtitles.


HIGH AND LOW
TENGOKU TO JIGOKU
1963, Janus Films, 143 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

In director Akira Kurosawa’s hands, corporate executives can be just as ruthless as 16th-century samurai. Kingo Gondo’s (Toshiro Mifune) plans to take over a shoe company hit a snag when kidnappers demand a ransom for his son. It turns out the criminals have the wrong boy – the son of Gondo’s chauffeur – but still want their money. Loosely based on the Ed McBain novel King’s Ransom, this crime drama pairs the executive’s dilemma with a police procedural that’s equally gripping. In Japanese with English subtitles.


THE HIDDEN FORTRESS
KAKUSHI-TORIDE NO SAN-AKUNIN
1958, Janus Films, 139 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s first widescreen film is a matchless mix of drama, action and humor that helped inspire STAR WARS. Toshiro Mifune stars as a warrior shepherding a princess-in-disguise through war-torn feudal Japan with a pair of bumbling peasants in tow. “One of the greatest action-adventure films ever made.” - David Ehrenstein. In Japanese with English subtitles.


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