Stray Dog. 1949
Sizzling detective Noir from Kurosawa. On a hot, steamy stinking day in postwar Tokyo rookie detective Toshiro Mifune (so young and handsome) is riding a crowded bus, when a pickpocket steals his gun. The film follows his desperate manhunt for this outlaw who is committing crimes using his gun, and giving Mifune huge amounts of guilt and remorse. Everyone is sweating buckets literally and figuratively as Mifune searches high and low for this stray dog. Looking through books of mug shots he id’s a lady bad who was standing next to him in the bus reeking and stinking of cheap perfume and follows her everywhere she goes until she can’t stand it any longer and throws him a clue like a mercy fuck as to where he might find his dog. Next up is a long audacious sequence that takes place in outdoor black market that is photographed without dialogue as Mifune goes undercover, (wearing an old army uniform no less) looking for black market gun dealers who might give him a lead on the whereabouts of the criminal and his Colt. Beautiful Mifune is so tired and depressed of the whole thing that he tries to resign with a letter as big as one of the tablets that God threw at Moses, but his superior rips it up and throws Mifune over to one of the old boys on the homicide squad played by the great Takashi Shimura and they quickly bond and start sweating together. Kurosawa throws another wonderful scene (There are many of those in this great film) at us when Shimura takes Mifune home with him for an evening of beer and deep conversation after visiting a Hoochie coochie music hall full of very sweaty chorus girls in cheap costumes dancing in front of a sad backdrop of hot shot New York City skyscrapers. They hope to get some talk from one of the girls who is tangled up with the dog, but she ain’t yapping, and once again Mifune stays on her case. This film is of course influenced by American film noir and Italian Neo realistic films, but we never lose sight of being in this stinking shit hole of a city shortly after it was destroyed by all those bombs bursting in air. However Kurosawa doesn’t dwell on the outer destruction, instead he hones in on the inner destruction that war can have on the men who fought it and ties it up maybe too conveniently by giving Mifune and the dog somewhat similar war experiences. A minor criticism to be sure. If possible this film should be viewed on a hot humid August night in a room without air conditioning so you can experience the new movie gimmick that Kurosawa introduced to the world called sweat o vision. One of the ten best films of 1949.
posted by cinemage books at 12:49 PM