The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Eijiro Hisaita etc.
1960/Japan
Toho Company/Kurosawa Production Co.
Repeat viewing/FilmStruck

 

The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge. — Hamlet

The first 30 minutes of this film are as good as anything Kurosawa ever did.  The remaining two-plus hours are almost as good.

The film begins with the fantastic sequence of a fancy wedding dinner following the marriage of the lame daughter of a business mogul (Masayuki Mori) and his strangely expressionless private secretary Nishi (Toshiro Mifune).  The wedding is continuously marred by the interruptions of frenzied reporters out to cover a corruption scandal involving the corporation.  Then an ominous second wedding cake is delivered.

Soon enough, we find out that Nishi was behind the cake.  His father, a ministry official, was cajoled or forced into jumping out the window marked by the rose on the cake.  The rest of the film is devoted to Nishi’s elaborate revenge plot.  This is complicated by the fact that he has fallen in love with his wife.  With Takashi Shimura as an executive.

If Throne of Blood is Macbeth and Ran is KIng Lear, The Bad Sleep Well is Kurosawa’s take on Hamlet.  The wedding sequence is completely brilliant.  The rest of the film drags a bit but contains many delights.  This is one of my favorite performances by Mifune.  He is just as good doing subtle and restrained as he is at doing explosive.  He has a chance to do both here.  Recommended.

Trailer

Tribute to some masterful staging

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