Kurosawa quotes this, his seventh feature, an atmospheric noir-inflected low life melodrama, as the first in which he felt truly himself as director. Casting the moody 28-year-old Mifune, in the first of their 16 collaborations, as the violent gangster whom boozy doctor Shimura diagnoses as suffering from TB ('a hole in the heart,' says the sour 'angel', ruefully), entailed major rewrites as his part was gradually increased. The movie breathes the polluted air of post-war pessimism, dissipation and poetic fatalism, symbolised in the shots of the oily, malaria-ridden swamp of a Tokyo dockside, but it is dramatically qualified by Mifune's suggested redeemability and Shimura's stoical humanism, the quality he epitomised almost 20 years later in the marvellous Redbeard. Fascinating, highly enjoyable and filled with great scenes - not least the slippery battle to the death in a paint-filled corridor.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Kinosuke Uekusa, Akira Kurosawa|