Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Toshiro Mifune
 SCANDAL (1950). Director: Akira Kurosawa.

A well-known artist named Ichiro (Toshiro Mifune) is painting on a mountainside when he encounters a famous singer, whom he at first doesn't recognize, named Miyako (Shirley Yamaguchi). Offering her a lift, they check into separate rooms at a hotel, but talk to one another on a balcony later on. Some tabloid journalists see the two, assume they are having an affair, snap their picture, and bring it to Hori (Eitaro Ozawa of The H-Man), the publisher of Amour.  Although neither Ichiro or Miyako are married (which in itself may be a problem), the photo causes a scandal and embarrasses the both of them. Ichiro hires a lawyer named Hiruta (Takashi Shimura), whose young daughter, Masako (Yoko Katsuragi), is ill and has been confined to her bed for years. Miyako decides to join Ichiro in the lawsuit, but when Hirata goes to see Hiro, the former may succumb to his basest urges ... Scandal is a relatively minor film from the famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, but it is not without merit and its poignant moments. Scandal reminds one of a Japanese Frank Capra film (admittedly not one of the really great Capra films), with its mix of pathos, humor and sentiment. In later years star Mifune was known for his gruff and acclaimed portrayals of outlaws, Samurai, and the like, but this is his matinee idol stage, and he is quite good-looking and sexy. His part, as well as Yamaguchi's, is underwritten, however, and the viewer never gets to know these two faux lovers very well. This is perhaps all right, as the film truly belongs to Hiruta (beautifully portrayed by another Kurosawa regular, Shimura), the lawyer who has a crisis of conscience in the face of a crushing tragedy, and the film ends on a sombre note. Tanie Kitabayashi also scores as Hiruta's wife, and the other performances are all well-played. It's a little strange to watch a crowd scene in which dozens of extras are singing "Auld Lang Syne" in Japanese!    

Verdict: Takes a while to get going, but this is not without interest. ***. 


angelman66 said...

This will definitely be worth a watch—have read about it but have not yet seen it. Toshiro Mifune is among the most charismatic and talented of 20th century stars. I love Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood and Rashomon.

Have a great week, Bill!

William said...

Have seen all of these years ago so they are due for a re-watch. Mifune is considered the greatest Japanese actor of all time.