Friday, June 4, 2010

SCANDAL (1950)

"This is a protest film - it was directly connected with the rise of the press in Japan and its habitual confusion of freedom with license. Personal privacy is never respected and the scandal sheets are the worst offenders." - Akira Kurosawa.

Made between two of Kurosawa's earliest masterpieces (STRAY DOG and RASHOMON), SCANDAL is a film based on something very personal with Kurosawa himself (his dislike for the scandal sheets, especially since one had linked him romantically with actress Hideko Takamine), but overall the film is only OK. Takashi Shimura's performance is the main reason to watch the film. Kurosawa's direction is pedestrian and Mifune didn't have much to work with with his character so I guess you really can't blame him much for his lackluster performance.

Popular painter Mifune is on top a hill painting a portrait of a mountain when out of nowhere a very popular singer just wanders up. She's carrying a suitcase and is three miles from the nearest village. Mifune is going the same way so he gives her a ride. They are both staying at the local inn and a nosy romance magazine photographer just happens to be around so he takes a photograph of them standing together. Next thing you know the magazine writes up a steamy story about their secret love affair. It sells out instantly.

Naturally Mifune is pissed so he punches the magazine editor and then makes it known that he's going to sue them. Back when this film was made that was completely unheard of, I guess, so the whole thing blows up into a huge story. One night a pathetic, sad sack looking lawyer (Shimura) comes to Mifune's house and pleads with him to let him be his lawyer. At first Mifune is skeptical, but then he meets Shimura's sick as fuck, bedridden daughter so he hires him. Give me a break! Anyway, a bunch of shit happens, but it's all highly predictable.

SCANDAL is not a bad film, it's just bland. Even Kurosawa himself must have known it wasn't very good cause later on he said "...if it had not been for RASHOMON...I don't know what kind of slump I would have gone into."

Worth watching, if you love Kurosawa, but others will probably be best steering clear.
Boom mic shadow visible.

Boom mic shadow visible.