Stray Dog (The Criterion Collection)
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- Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa
- Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, a 32-minute documentary on the making of Stray Dog
- Booklet featuring an excerpt from Kurosawa's autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography
Top Customer Reviews
The location photography alone is fascinating in depicting the Japan of 1948 or 49. And the story progresses as a very young Toshiro Mifune wanders through various levels of that postwar society in search of the thief who stole his Colt. On hand also, is that wonderful actor in Kurosawa's repertory company that was the leader of the 7 Samurai, and here too, is the older & wiser mentor to Mifune.
Finally, the movie wins you over for its own reasons. Though early, Kurosawa's composition, framing, and directorial skill is evident. The performances are fine. The atmosphere and location photography ground the film in reality. And it is a more complex film and story than it first appears. And, like early Ford, there is poetry amid the restrictions of budget and resources. And like early Ford, it presages what was to come. Good stuff if you've a mind for it. 5 stars for those folks.
What can I say? Every time I think I have Kurosawa figured out he again amazes me with the incredible power of story-telling that he wields. While many will praise the master of Japanese cinema for his awesoem samurai epics, this one strikes a similar chord to High and Low, spinning a tale of social commentary in post-war Japan. There are differences though. Big ones.
While High and Low (like this film) tells us a great deal about police-work and the state of Japan after World War II (and the terrible things that people may or may not have been forced to do as a result of the social upheaval), this film is more personal.
Toshiro Mifune is probably the greatest actor in Japanese history, and his early performance here struck me very hard indeed. Previously I had seen Mifune as an old man and a rascal, but never playing a serious dramatic lead as a young man (ordinary Joe). When our young protagonist loses his gun, I can feel his shame and disgrace, and feel his terrible moment of panic. As the film progresses, he continues to scan every room as if it might hold some hidden clue, and his intensity is such that it worries his superiors and outright frightens normal people who get in his way. As the film progresses we watch the tension grow, and see his mind pushed closer and closer to the edge. He isn't worried about his gun. He is obsessed. Every new crime he hears about triggers the reaction "Was it MY gun?!Read more ›
First, although we primarily associate Kurosawa with period films, this was one of his relatively few contemporary films. Along with the utterly phenomenal IKIRU (1952) and HIGH AND LOW (1963), it is one of his three most successful nonhistorical films. Nonetheless, for us in the early part of the 21st century, it possesses a great deal of almost documentary interest for glimpses into life in post-war Japan. Released in 1949, it depicts a Japan that had not yet begun the strong enonomic recovery of the 1950s. I found the numerous images of individuals struggling on the margins of economic survivability to be riveting. This was seen not merely in the "stray dog" who possessed the gun of the main character, but in many minor characters, not all of whom we actually see. One of the truly sad moments was when Takashi Shimura (familiar as the head samurai of SEVEN SAMURAI, the dying man in IKIRU, and the woodcutter of RASHOMON) explains to Toshiro Mifune how a thief's stealing the cash a woman had saved for her dowry probably meant that she would not have enough money saved again until she was an old maid, implying that the thief had stolen not merely her cash, but her chance of happiness in life as well.
Second, seeing Toshiro Mifune playing a despondent, anxious, inexperienced, overly deferential detective was a completely new experience. It is a range of emotions that I had not previously seen him put on display in anyother role. I must add that I think most contemporary American viewers will find, perhaps, his character to be a little too groveling and impetuously stupid.Read more ›
Regarding the Criterion DVD, the image quality is really no better than a VHS tape. Occasionally scenes are quite dark or the picture is striped with dark lines. The DVD menu page is too dark and it was almost impossible to read the options. As usual, Criterion offers no subtitle options beyond English. And the price is tad lower, if still too high. But at least they have made it available.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Akira Kurosawa is a genius. He did an amazing job showing and tellings us of post-world war II Japan.Published 14 months ago by luciaesperanzajd
One of my all time favorites, that and Drunken Angel are perfect to see together. Get them both. Young and handsome Mifune playing two very opposite roles. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Julie Merwin
I find it rather telling that Akira Kurosawa didn’t really like this film. He talked about how it was lacking in depth, and how despite the fact that it had the technique, it was... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Andrew Ellington
One of his best! One of the few movies that shows post war Japan.Published 22 months ago by Leonard Roos
"Stray Dog" is possibly the greatest suspense noir ever made. It's a detective police story about a young police officer who gets his gun stolen while he's traveling on a... Read morePublished on June 5, 2014 by B. Adducchio
`Stray Dog' is Akira Kurosawa's 'Ladri di biciclette'. But, the movie doesn't reach the top level of Vittorio De Sica's masterpiece. Read morePublished on August 9, 2013 by Luc REYNAERT
This is a good detective story with a dramatic ending but what makes it really interesting are two other things. Read morePublished on March 10, 2013 by The Curmudgeon
Filmed a few years after the end of the war in the still bombed-out Japanese cities, this excellent movie depicts a police officer pursuing a killer.Published on December 26, 2012 by nazcalito
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