Alcoholics -- Japan -- Drama, Physicians -- Japan -- Drama

Drunken Angel

(Yoidore tenshi)


Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Reizaburo Yamamoto, Michiyo Kogure,

Drunken Angel is a masterful gangster film, evoking the sinister shadows of American film noir and depicting with compassion the devalued life of underworld characters. It is, moreover, a perfect, poetic allegory of postwar Japan; the malaise of a society ravaged by war is symbolized by a disease-ridden sump near the center of the action—the Tokyo slum where the samaritan Dr. Sanada (Takashi Shimura) runs a neighborhood medical clinic. When an arrogant hoodlum (Mifune) is discovered to be tubercular, the two become locked in a struggle of mutual loathing and grudging respect. Their relationship is played out with subtlety, reflecting the moral ambiguities within both the “angel” and the gangster. Mifune’s astounding performance led Kurosawa to rethink his original conception and alter the script midway: “I decided to turn him loose,” he said.

Judy Bloch
  • Akira Kurosawa
  • Keinosuke Uekusa
  • Takeo Ito
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 98 mins
  • Janus Films

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Kurosawa & Mifune (program note), Film Forum (New York), 2002

Kurosawa and Mifune (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 2002

The films of Akira Kurosawa (press release), Pacific Film Archive, 1974

Drunken angel (program note), Monterey Peninsula College, Philip Chamberlin, 1962

Drunken angel (review), Variety, Vincent Canby, 1960

Kurosawa on Kurosawa (article), Sight and Sound, Akira Kurosawa

The films of Akira Kurosawa (program), TLA Cinema

Kurosawa's Kumonosu-djo (distributor materials), Toho Kabushiki Kaisha

Kurosawa: a retrospective (program), Japan Society, David Owens

Drunken angel (program note), Portland State College. Film Committee

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