Drunken Angel

Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Starring Michiyo Kogure, Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura. (NR, 98 min.)

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Wed., July 12, 2000

Decades before Lucinda Williams turned the phrase “drunken angel” into a beautifully elegiac song for the departed musician Blaze Foley, the Japanese film maverick Akira Kurosawa used the phrase (Yoidore Tenshi, in Japanese) as the title for this 1948 gangster film. Set in postwar Japan, the movie tells the story of a good-samaritan doctor who has mixed feelings about ministering to a tubercular hoodlum. This early film in Kurosawa’s long career is the first time he worked with Toshiro Mifune, who was to become the director’s frequent leading man. Drunken Angel has also been cited by Kurosawa as the film in which the immature director finally “discovered” himself. We can all be grateful for that self-discovery, for it enabled Kurosawa to go on and direct some of the greatest films of the century (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, et al.)

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Drunken Angel, Akira Kurosawa, Michiyo Kogure, Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

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