A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo’s sweltering streets for the stray dog whose desperation has led him to a life of crime. With each step, cop and criminal’s lives become more intertwined and the investigation becomes an examination of Murakami’s own dark side. Starring Toshiro Mifune, as the rookie cop, and Takashi Shimura, as the seasoned detective who keeps him on the right side of the law, Stray Dog (Nora Inu) goes beyond a crime thriller, probing the squalid world of postwar Japan and the nature of the criminal mind. —The Criterion Collection
The son of an army officer, Kurosawa studied art before gravitating to film as a means of supporting himself. He served seven years as an assistant to director Kajiro Yamamoto before he began his own directorial career with Sanshiro Sugata (1943), a film about the 19th century struggle for supremacy between adherents of judo and jujitsu that so impressed the military government, he was prevailed upon to make a sequel (Sanshiro Sugata Part Two). Following the end of World War II, Kurosawa’s career gathered speed with a series of films that cut across all genres, from crime thrillers to period dramas. Among the latter, his Rashomon (1951) became the first postwar Japanese film to find wide favor with Western audiences. It was Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), however, that made the largest impact of any of his movies outside of Japan. Although heavily cut for its original release, this three-hour-plus medieval action drama, shot with painstaking… read more
Mifune’s but a rookie in this lynchpin of Kurosawa’s crime forays, falling trap to Tokyo’s grifters on a sweltering day. While a way yet from High and Low’s scorching, watertight procedural, Nora inu holds deft cinematography; its riff of American police investigative giving steady bursts of suspense and morality. More interesting is its embodying the après-guerre social remark on cultural shift toward the Occident: kimono replaced by dress and perm, felons invoking civil rights, packed baseball stadiums, cabarets - more caustic depictions than the same lament by Ozu.
My main, and really only, complaint I have concerning the story is that I have problems feeling much connection to a detective who has his gun lifted by a pickpocket and then is reduced to tears multiple times in the investigation to recover it. Still, the filmmaking prowess cannot be denied in this good, but not great, Kurosawa film.
Stray Dog/ Nora inu 1949
Akira Kurosawa serves up this swell noir set in the slums of immediate post war Tokyo which has a rookie detective Murakami(Toshirô Mifune) desperately… read review
Okay, so before I begin this review, let’s just get this out of the way. This is an Akira Kurosawa film, as in it was directed by- so, you know, done deal. If you’re a movie man or woman of any merit… read review
An earlier work with Mifune as the erratic, error prone, but driven beat cop determined to make up for loosing his departmental – issued gun. Kurosawa takes the viewer on a post WW II adventure through… read review