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Author Topic: Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune  (Read 1768 times)
Rudra
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« on: April 04, 2012, 06:25:37 PM »

I have seen most of the films that Akira Kurosawa made with Toshiro Mifune as the lead actor (including the utterly long and boring "The Idiot" which I rate as one of the worst movies I have ever seen from good directors). I read somewhere that during the filming of "Red Beard", Toshiro Mifune had to grow his beard naturally (instead of using a fake one) for the character he was playing (Dr. Kyojo Niide) which meant he could not work on other projects and hence was financially strained and that led to the unfortunate parting of ways between a great director and a great actor.

My question is, how were the actors paid for working in movies in those times? I know, they weren't raking in millions like "stars" of today but is it true that they were not paid well either, irrespective of the actor' capability? Can someone throw more light on Kurosawa-Mifune parting of ways?

Thank you.

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titoli
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 08:17:45 PM »

I've read that the shooting of Red Beard took two years: probably that was the reason which led Mifune to leave K., not the growing of the beard.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 05:56:06 AM »

I'm not sure what kind of deal Mifune had with Kurosawa's production company. Under the old model, film actors in Japan were on a contract system (similar to the Hollywood model) and drew a straight salary (which varied based on an actor's status). By the time of Red Beard, though, things had changed. Obviously, the problem of not being able to work on other films during RB's long production period had a big impact on Mifune's income (hence Mifune's unhappiness). Without the beard he could have picked up any number of jobs during downtime on RB's production, but there just weren't any roles for bearded leading men in Japan in '63-'65 (not many now, either).

I'm not sure how much longer a partnership Kurosawa-Mifune would have enjoyed in any case. It wasn't until 1970 that AK made another movie (after the Tora Tora Tora fiasco) and it was a low budget indy type film without a role for a star like Mifune. After that AK made his Russian film (1975) for which, naturally, no Japanese actors were required. At that point the two hadn't worked together for 10 years; them coming together again wasn't likely. By the time of Kagemusha ('80) and Ran ('85) the younger Nakadai was a better choice to play leads anyway.

There's a very good book on the Mifune-AK partnership by Stuart Galbraith IV, The Emperor and the Wolf (2002), which may have the detailed info you're looking for. Check it out.

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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2014, 07:01:48 AM »

There's a very good book on the Mifune-AK partnership by Stuart Galbraith IV, The Emperor and the Wolf (2002), which may have the detailed info you're looking for. Check it out.


Yes that is a really great book. Shame it's out of print now. I also just heard that an English translation of screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto's book on Kurosawa should be on sale in November.

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Novecento
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 08:31:35 PM »

This looks interesting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPSXG7OV18g

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Novecento
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2017, 10:02:01 PM »


Apparently co-scripted by Galbraith, this was mostly the usual laudatory talking-heads fare with narration (in this case by Keanu Reeves). As would be expected, it was vastly less in-depth than Galbraith's hefty and meticulously detailed tome (where anyone more than the casual fan should turn), yet there was still some great old footage, behind-the-scenes stuff, and wonderful reminiscences by some very old colleagues of Mifune.

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