An early encounter between Kurosawa and two of his favourite actors, Mifune and Shimura, both playing detectives in Japan's uneasy postwar period under US imperialism. When Mifune's pistol is stolen, he is overwhelmed by a feeling of dishonour rather than failure, and sets out on a descent into the lower depths of Tokyo's underworld, which gradually reveals Dostoievskian parallels between himself and his quarry. A sweltering summer is at its height, and Kurosawa's strenuous location shooting transforms the city into a sensuous collage of fluttering fans and delicate, sweating limbs. A fine blend of US thriller material with Japanese conventions, it's a small classic. CPea.