Sanjuro (1962)

Sanjuro (Tsubaki Sanjuro)
Directed by Akira Kurasawa
Written by Ryuzo Kikushima, Hido Oguni, and Akira Kurasawa from a novel by Shugoro Yamamoto
Toho Company/Akira Kurasawa Production Company
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Sanjûrô Tsubaki: Stupid friends are dangerous.

The crafty ronin Sanjuro returns – this time to teach life lessons to some clueless samurai.

The nameless ronin of Yojimbo (1961) (Toshiro Mifune) hides out in another town and overhears some young samurai discussing corruption.  He straightens them out on who is responsible.  Before they can take further action, the good Chamberlain and his family has been kidnapped by the evil Superintendent.  The group retrieves the Chamberlain’s wife and daughter (?).  The elderly wife impresses Sanjuro with her counsel that a good sword remains in its sheath.

Unfortunately, the young samurais’ impulsive behavior interferes with Sanjuro’s plan to conduct a campaign of wits to return the Chamberlain  to power.  Bloodletting ensues.

I give Yojimbo only a slight edge over this one.  Mifune is once again completely delightful.  The film also contains another great performance by Testuya Nakadai as a kindred spirit on the other side.  Underneath all the fun are some masterful compositions and camerawork and a wonderful Masaru Sato score.  Highly recommended.

The Criterion Blu-Ray looks beautiful and contains a good commentary by a film scholar.