Jesse Marinoff Reyes:
Happy Birthday Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997). Today, we look at Toshiro Mifune on what would have been his 92st birthday (with many films directed by Kurosawa). Well, they did 16 films together and they ranged from great, to really great to absolutely transcendent …
Famous for his gruff Ronin roles, Mifune’s range was not limited to Samurai—from a painter in Scandal, to a stressed and extorted executive in High and Low, to a WWII Japanese soldier in Hell in the Pacific, or even a two-bit hoodlum dying of tuberculosis in Drunken Angel or a committed surgeon to the poor in Kurosawa’s magnificent Red Beard, Mifune was a gifted and epic performer. Kurosawa said it himself after watching Mifune for the first time auditioning for another director (a role he did not get), “I am a person rarely impressed by actors… But in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed.” He later said Mifune “could convey in only three feet of film an emotion for which the average Japanese actor would require ten feet.”
Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi), 1948 (Japan)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa. “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…” Mifune is cast by Kurosawa for the first time. Though their collaboration would only last until 1965 (to the detriment of both), the 16 films they would do together are golden.
Scandal (Shubun), 1950 (Japan)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa.