Tuesday, September 1, 2015

STRAY DOG (1949)

Inspired by a true event, Jules Dassin's THE NAKED CITY and the writings of Georges Simenon (and maybe even De Sica's BICYCLE THIEVES), STRAY DOG is the story of a rookie homicide detective (Toshiro Mifune) who's gun is pickpocketed one hot summer day on a crowded bus.  He almost immediately realizes what happen and chases the criminal but the man gets away.  Mifune becomes obsessed with getting his gun back and then riddled with guilt when the gun is used in random crimes.  Mifune's boss teams him up with veteran detective Takashi Shimura to locate the gun and stop the rabid dog that is using it in a one-man crime spree.

STRAY DOG is an interesting film.  It's pretty cool seeing Kurosawa's take on the police procedural film noir genre (my favorite is still T-MEN), but STRAY DOG is simply too long (the black market montage and the interview scenes towards the end should have been trimmed down) and the script is clumsy at times.  Most notably...the borrowed gun moment was totally unneeded.  That said, it's still a good film that's definitely worth a viewing.  Good acting, fair script, nice cinematography, probably around 20 minutes too long, a young Isao Kimura.  Also this is the first of nine writing collaborations between Akira Kurosawa and the very talented Ryuzo Kikushima.  Eleven if you count TORA! TORA! TORA! and RUNAWAY TRAIN.