Kurosawa on TCM this Tuesday!

Mifune! Noir! Kurosawa! Happiness!

I should have posted this earlier, but each Tuesday this month Turner Classic Movies is showing a huge selection of Akira Kurosawa’s films, all uncut and commercial free.  I’m a huge fan of TCM and Kurosawa (and the great Toshiro Mifune) so this is pure gold.  I pretty much filled up my DVR last Tuesday, and here’s what’s on tap for the 23rd (all times are Eastern Standard):

23 Tuesday
6:00 AM Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
A young man struggles to learn the essence of the martial arts. Cast: Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Akitake Kono, Shoji Kiyokawa. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-79 mins, TV-PG
7:30 AM Most Beautiful, The (1944)
Japanese women sacrifice everything for the war effort. Cast: Takashi Shimura, Shoji Kiyokawa, Ichiro Sugai. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-85 mins, TV-PG
9:00 AM Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, The (1945)
In medieval Japan, a feudal lord undertakes a perilous mission to put his brother’s soul to rest. Cast: Kenjiro Okochi, Susumu Fujita, Kenichi Enomoto. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-59 mins, TV-PG
10:00 AM Sanshiro Sugata Part 2 (1945)
A judo fighter continues his training to prove his superiority to foreign challengers. Cast: Denjiro Okochi, Susumu Fujita, Ryunosuke Tsukigata. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-82 mins, TV-PG
11:30 AM No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)
A woman flees society after seeing her father and lover destroyed by government oppression. Cast: Danjiro Oicochi, Eiko Miyoshi, Setsuko Hara. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-110 mins, TV-PG
1:30 PM One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
An engaged couple tries to enjoy their Sunday holiday without spending any money. Cast: Midori Ariyama, Chieko Nakakita, Isao Numasaiki. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-109 mins, TV-PG
3:30 PM Drunken Angel (1948)
An alcoholic doctor builds a shaky friendship with a dying gangster. Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Reizaburo Yamamoto. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-98 mins, TV-PG, CC
5:19 PM Short Film: Dogs ‘N Ducks (1953)
BW-10 mins,
5:30 PM Stray Dog (1949)
When a detective’s gun is stolen, he tears apart the underworld to get it back. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi, Shimamura, Keiko Awaji. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-122 mins, TV-PG
8:00 PM Rashomon (1950)
In medieval Japan, four people offer conflicting accounts of a rape and murder. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-88 mins, TV-PG
9:30 PM Seven Samurai (1954)
Japanese villagers hire a team of traveling samurai to defend them against a bandit attack. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Kuninori Kodo. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-207 mins, TV-14
1:00 AM Yojimbo (1961)
A samurai-for-hire sets the warring factions of a Japanese town against each other. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Seizaburo Kawazu. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-111 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
3:00 AM Sanjuro (1962)
A wandering samurai recruits younger fighters to help him battle corruption. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Hakadai, Yuzo Kayama. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-96 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
4:45 AM Dodes ‘Ka-Den (1970)
Slum dwellers in Tokyo fight to survive while dreaming of better lives. Cast: Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai, Kaou Kato. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. C-140 mins, TV-14

I love that they’re showing these in chronological order.  The great thing about this series is that they’re not just showing the widely-seen classics, like Seven Samurai, but also many wonderful and less-seen films by the master. A couple of years ago I started working my way through all of Kurosawa’s films while reading The Emperor and the Wolf, a dual biography of Kurosawa and Mifune.  I got waylaid by work and personal commitments, but this has gotten me restarted working through Kurosawa’s filmography.

The series concludes next Tuesday, March 30th, with Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, and Ran.   Set your DVR and your DVD recorders.  Oh, and there are some good film noirs playing tonight, including The Big Sleep, which I’ve talked about recently (see if you can follow the story!).

Who needs film school?  Just watch TCM and do a little reading.  You won’t regret it.

4 Responses to “Kurosawa on TCM this Tuesday!”

  1. Font Says:

    Hey Kevin, its Font here…how have you been? Thanks for posting this. Like you mentioned, I’ve only seen his classics, so this should be sweet! I read your post on The Big Sleep a few weeks back and have been meaning to watch that as well. Thanks for the heads up!

    Font

  2. Jim Says:

    Hear hear Kevin!

    We’ve already packed the DVR from last week.

    Since we’ve got limited space, do you have any recommendations from tomorrow night’s lesser known films?

  3. Kevin Says:

    Hi Font, I’m good, thank you. Hope you are, too.

    Jim, there are too many I haven’t seen to pick. Of those I have seen, I want to see them again. I find Kurosawa’s film get better the second and third time I watch them. I think there are times when I don’t appreciate some nuance of Japanese culture or history, and so I’m a step behind if following the story. It often takes a second viewing to fully appreciate the film. ‘Stray Dog’ is like that — it looks like a ’50′s crime drama with noir elements, but set in Japan. I didn’t fully realize how rare handguns were when I watched it, and so it felt a little like ‘much ado about nothing.’ I needed to adjust to the idea that it was a more internal film than the typical western film with similar motifs. Anyway, that one’s definitely worth a watch — just don’t expect it to fit the typical western film noir conventions.

    Of those I haven’t seen, I’m most interested in ‘Sanshiro Sugata.’

  4. platypotamus Says:

    This is awesome. Thanks so much for the heads-up. Just wish I had a dvr, since all the films that I have yet to see are on during the work day.

    You should definitely pick up “Something Like An Autobiography” – great read for any Kurosawa fan.

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The animation and animation-related musings of Kevin Koch