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Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well) (1960)

Original Title : Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
Director : Akira Kurosawa
Writer : Shinobu Hashimoto
Eijirô Hisaita
Ryuzo Kikushima
Akira Kurosawa
Hideo Oguni
Genre : Drama
Thriller
Country : Japan
Language : Japanese
Producer : Akira Kurosawa , Tomoyuki Tanaka
Music : Masaru Satô
Photography : Yuzuru Aizawa
Distributor : Cowboy Pictures [us]
IMDB ID : 0054460
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poster for "Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well)" by Akira Kurosawa (1960)
Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well) (1960) - Akira Kurosawa
 

Starring

Toshirô Mifune Koichi Nishi
Takeshi Kato Itakura
Takeshi Kato Itakura
 

Plot

In Kurosawa's HAMLET-like story of corporate scandal in post-war Japan, a young man attempts to use his position at the heart of a corrupt company to expose the men responsible for his father's death.
 

Comments

All of Japanese art. Despite such a practical, beautiful analysis as Richie's, he still finds it a letdown after the first twenty-three minutes, and Kurosawa is too Japanese not to agree with him. The beginning is a prologue merely, based on Paths Of Glory and Giant. It ends in the real beginning of the film: a first quotation from On The Waterfront (the wedding cake is reflected in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but has its strongest reverberation in Edward Dmytryk's Mirage). This opening deserves a further comment: it introduces a chorus of reporters, derived from The Thing or Citizen Kane, anticipating The Devils as an expository device. Kurosawa is a master of the long and medium long shot, as when an executive rises from the banquet and walks away from the camera, sees a line of reporters forming perpendicular to his progress, and reverses his steps (several times Mifune is easily spotted in the middle distance despite the startling anomie of his characterization). Miura's suicide is fascinatingly filmed with a long lens to compress his leap into the road and a truck sweeping by as one plane without cutting. The volcano scene looks ahead of its time, and was imitated in Manhattan Murder Mystery. Wada and Shirai are the Hidden Fortress kyogen clowns treated as Kabuki actors. The juggernaut of corruption is like watching your own funeral, and Wada does exactly that. The brother and sister talk establishes them with rapid intercutting and the sound of a practice piano, which recurs later. Kurosawa develops a gangster theme from On the Waterfront (or The Asphalt Jungle or The Killing), and then launches a parody of It's A Wonderful Life with the long take of the briefcase gag, which demolishes Shirai. Then the alley scene from On The Waterfront appears, with a touch of Banquo. Mifune at home is a strong resemblance to Cary Grant in North By Northwest (which is quoted again later). A characteristic Kurosawa feature is the sliding door that becomes a wall. Another scene out of Giant or On The Waterfront modulates business dealings into feudal rewards. The juvenile if flawless piano music returns as Iwabuchi plays paterfamilias and explains that politics means a certain standard of living. The scene ends with a clock chiming Big Ben, and Shirai is seen striking a mie as he realizes the truth. Again Kazan's alleyway is seen, now as a place for murder. The confrontation of the two clowns, portrait bust vs. ghost, is the summit of Kurosawa's art in this regard. The dramatic confrontation in the office building is highlighted by an exterior zoom on an optical printer, and has two important qualities: an almost terrifying intensity correlated to the illumination by flashlights, and the use of sound before and after the office window is opened on the city streets below. Dramatically this is the peripeteia. The poisoned whiskey gag figures famously elsewhere, and another important quotation from North By Northwest begins Moriyama's investigations (in this scene he resembles the "real" Lester Townsend). Bits of Blow-Up and Notorious appear. Iwabuchi seems to be modeled on J. Carroll Naish. The ruins of the munitions factory frame Mifune's startling apparition as an original of Lt. Columbo with trenchcoat and tune. Moriyama is psyched-out with a familiar gag, and sells out for a mess of pottage. Kieko's choice of father or husband is a crux: she enters the front door as Iwabuchi stares down at her from the landing, and a maid polishing her crutch takes her place. She falls for her father's ploy and with unspeakable sadness is seen limping up the stairs, only to be drugged into unconsciousness. Cries out of hell or The Lower Depths greet her at the ruins, where Itakura says, "Now all of Japan can be treated the same way," and in the end she is reduced to idiocy. The final scene advances a theme later used in The Last Tycoon ("Go abroad!" says the unknown Mr. Big), and effects a tour de force by having Iwabuchi stumble and mistake night for day. Kurosawa's erudite inculcation of Hamlet merits close study, and a certain "stretching" of scenes recalls Olivier's film. The noble mechanism of failure at the close is explained in one way thereby, though it also resembles The Hill. His Ophelia's lameness recurs in Dodesukaden, and Mifune's reminiscences amid the ruins are a wide application of the play. He's almost unrecognizable in this role, which might be modeled on William Holden a little (in Born Yesterday, perhaps). The lack of appreciation for this masterpiece might reflect the time: we've seen the Management Revolution rob stockholders and employees alike, and this sort of construction fraud is a commonplace nowadays. Masaru Sato's excellent score opens with Ben Casey drums and Ebony Concerto sax, and goes on from there. Kurosawa's modernity is the equal of Teshigahara's, for instance. All of Japanese art is here somehow, in a longitudinal perspective of a long bench or beam in the ruins, lost in the far background.
 
poster for "Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well)"
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Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well) (1960) - Akira Kurosawa
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