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The Bad Sleep Well
(Warui Yatsu hodo Yoku Nemuru)
Japan - 1960
Directed by Akira Kurosawa


 

A man avenges his father's death in this film noir masterpiece set in Post WW2 Japan.  Toshiro Mifune stars as Koishi Nishi, a man whose father, a corporate chief, was compelled to commit suicide, thereby taking the blame for other corporate officers in a twisted, pre-arranged "gentlemen's agreement".  Nishi is not satisfied to merely discover the scheme, he is obsessed with bringing every man involved to his knees.   He marries the delicate daughter of the head of the company in order to destroy him emotionally, as well as corporately. 

Kurosawa used Shakespeare's Hamlet as a basis for this story, although it isn't immediately apparent.  We thought the film noir techniques were classic examples of the genre, used to effectively build tension and emotion.  The decidedly European-style musical score adds a pleasant "off-beat"-ness to the film. The Bad Sleep Well was Kurosawa's 19th film, made during what many consider to be his richest period of achievement. 

Runtime:  135 Minutes

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