30 April 2010 | Michael_Elliott
*** (out of 4)
This Kurosawa picture is pretty much a protest again the media and I'm sure plays much better today than in 1950. In the film, an artist (Toshiro Mifune) is away on vacation when he happens to meet an actress (Shirley Yamaguchi). Neither know it but a picture is taken of them together and placed in a gossip magazine that pretty much ruins their reputations. They decide to sue and hire a crackpot lawyer (Takashi Shimura) who might not be much better than the magazine. This isn't considered a very good film from the legendary director but I found enough great moments here to kill off some of the badness, which there is quite a bit of. I'll start with the bad stuff and that's some of the most over dramatic moments as there's no doubt this film is bias against the media and in the end the film turns out to be a major propaganda piece against them. There's nothing wrong with this but it doesn't get to be too much at times and the screenplay, for whatever reason, loses focus of the actual scandal during the second half and turns all of the attention onto the lawyer. This here is where some of the more over dramatic moments come into play and this is where the film loses a bit of steam but at the same time it leads to a rather powerful final ten-minutes. What does work are the performances, which are all terrific. I found Yamaguchi to be incredibly charming in her role even though it's probably the weakest written. Shimura gets handed many of the over dramatic moments but he still manages to nail most of the scenes he's in. His drunken scene with his sick daughter were quite touching as were his final few moments in the film. Then we have Mifune who once again turns in a great performance. The more and more I see from this guy the more amazed that I am as it really seems like he could do no wrong and had the ability to blend into any role and make us believe the character. There wasn't a single frame that I didn't believe I was seeing a private artist struggling with this scandal and Mifune nailed every bit of the drama but also the lighter bits of comedy and even more importantly some terrific scenes with the lawyer's daughter. The story of the media doing innocent people wrong is probably a lot more relevant today than it was when this film was released and I felt this gave the film another plus. This certainly isn't the greatest film from Kurosawa but it's easy to see and feel that he had a strong hatred for the media and it's in every inch of this film. While some of the subject matter is a bit over the top, at the same time you can't get away from the terrific performances and great ending.