EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|MEN WHO TREAD ON THE TIGER'S TAIL, THE (TORA NO O o FUMU OTOKOTACHI) (director/writer: Akira Kurosawa; screenwriter: based on the play "Kanjincho" by Gohei Namiki; cinematographer: Takeo Itô; editor: Toshio Goto; music: Tadashi Hattori; cast: Denjiro Okochi (Benkei), Susumu Fujita (Lord Togashi), Masayuki Mori (Kamei), Takashi Shimura (Kataoka), Kenichi Enomoto (Porter), Hanshiro Iwai (Yoshitune), Seji Kiyokawa (Togashi's Aide), Aritake Kono (Ise); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Motohiko Ito; The Criterion Collection; 1945-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)|
|"A minor and obscure work by the acclaimed filmmaker."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This early samurai tale from
director Akira Kurosawa
("Ran"/Rashomon"/"Drunken Angel") is a minor and obscure work by the
acclaimed filmmaker. It was done on the fly, arranged at the last
minute when Kurosawa's plan to direct a big-budget costume picture
called Doko Kono Yari
fell through and he used the costumes and set for this pic. It's based
on the 1840 play "Kanjincho" by Gohei Namiki (a popular Kabuki drama in the East, which was based
on the Noh play "Ataka" from an anonymous
playwright). It was made in 1945 but not released
until 1953, as in the
postwar-period the American
censors didn't want to release
a film from the feudal ages that many Japanese felt took liberties with
traditions--it has a lord being whipped by his servant, which is a ruse
but still could be found to be offensive by some.
In the 12th-century, the
youthful Lord Yoshitune (Hanshiro Iwai) flees his dominion disguised
first as an ascetic and then as a porter to escape his vengeful rival
brother. The lord is accompanied by six bodyguards disguised as monks.
Along the way they run into a playful porter (Kenichi
Enomoto), who talks his way into tagging along. The bodyguards are led
by Benkei (Denjiro Okochi), whose greatest challenge is getting through
the barrier guarded by Lord Togashi (Susumu Fujita) and his army.
By seemingly glorifying the virtues of the
feudal era, the Kabuki
drama is actually mocking its blind obedience to the lords. The static
uneven drama is nearly sunk by the hammy porter played by Enoken, a
stage actor and longtime
favorite of Kurosawa's, who is around for comic relief and hijacks the
pic as a Stepin Fetchit clone.
REVIEWED ON 3/29/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ