Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Keiko Awaji,
On a crowded bus in teeming Tokyo, rookie policeman Murakami has his gun swiped. Fearful of losing his job—a cop without a job is a modern-day ronin—he embarks on a desperate search for the pickpocket. Murakami becomes a lone pilgrim in an underworld seething in the heat of summer and the crush of postwar shortages, rendered divinely hellish by Kurosawa’s odd-angled lensing and staccato editing. The policeman’s anxiety is heightened as reports come in of murders attributed to the stolen pistol; a simple theft becomes a case of murder-by-doppelgänger. Kurosawa acknowledged his debt to Georges Simenon, whose graying continental op Maigret is not resigned to the fact that the bad sleep well. But Stray Dog is typical of Kurosawa’s uncanny ability to mold genre to his own concerns. More than a hardboiled thriller, Stray Dog is a Dostoyevskian saga of guilt, and expiation, by association.