Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kurosawa's Stray Dog

I watched Kurosawa's Stray Dog again after about twenty years. A police procedural, like High and Low, but this one made in the late '40s.

A detective (Toshiro Mifune) has his gun stolen by a pickpocket. He sets out to get it back. He's racked with guilt when it's used in a series of crimes.

It's interesting, a movie set in a country with strict gun control.

First of all, the gun was a tiny .25 automatic, something that would be considered grossly inadequate in almost any other country. And, for another, ammunition wasn't available. The gun was stolen with five bullets in it, and that's all there were.

The cops go everywhere either on foot or by streetcar. Japan was not a rich country and it was still recovering from World War Two.

Mifune is new on the job as homicide detective, and that gives it a certain appeal. He doesn't quite know what he's doing.

I liked it pretty well.

When I saw it years ago, it was either in a theater or a classroom, and there were two things the audience laughed at, and they had a point. But watching it alone on TV, those things didn't bother me.

These Japanese detective movies have a different look to them.

In High and Low, the detective walked around in pants and untucked short sleeve shirts. They carried little .25 and .32 caliber pistols and drove around in little Toyotas, or Toyopets, as they were called.

In Stray Dog, the cops were in linen suits and Mifune wore a tie. As I said, they went everywhere on foot.

They looked more comfortable in High and Low.

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