Friday, 8 March 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1949: Takashi Shimura in Stray Dog

Takashi Shimura did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Sato in Stray Dog.

Stray Dog is a very effective crime film about a rookie detective Murakami, and a veteran detective who team up to find the crook who has been using the rookie's recently stolen gun.

I actually could have once again nominated Toshiro Mifune in the role of the rookie Murakami. Mifune is again very effective in his role, and with each film I see of his the more he moves up my list of favorite actors. Anyway I chose though instead to review his somewhat frequent co-star Takashi Shimura who plays the veteran detective to Mifune's rookie. Shimura actually takes a little bit to appear as the film at first only follows Murakami's investigation to find the gun peddlers who stole his gun. After he does this we first see Shimura as the experienced detective, who takes on the case as well as takes Murakami under his wing. In the first scene we see the inherit difference between the two men where Mifune plays up the inexperience and emotions of Murakami, Shimura takes a more gentle approach with detective Sato.

In his first scene we see Sato interrogating the gun peddlar woman. It is clear that Murakami intends to forcefully get the information out, but when he gets that she is laughing comfortably well eating with Sato. Shimura is quite good in portraying the detective's technique here as a man with a long experience in his trade, therefore he handles this type of subject with slow manuevered inquiring rather than blunt questioning. Shimura handles it well by showing that Sato appraoch is an effective one in that he keeps both the prisoner at ease and relaxed well he does have that inquiring touch to get the information he wants. Shimura makes the fashion that Sato handles this entirely believable that Sato would handle a suspect this way, but also that he would get exactly what he desired from the witness.

Shimura makes Sato a true veteran in the whole film. He is very good by showing that what transpires in the investigation never surprises him in the way it does Murakami. Shimura shows the history of the detective simply through his relaxed manner of dealing with the crimes that go on. It is not that Sato does not care by any means, but rather Shimura effectively establishes that it is a job he knows so well that he simply will not have to sweat out the problems of the street as he has been fully aware of them for quite some time. It is a nicely handled portrayal as he finds the right tone for Sato who is so astute as a detective that he can go about his job as a detective the way other people would not even go about considerably less stressful positions. Shimura never goes too far with this as he always has the right undercurrent of seriousness and inquisitiveness in him along with his more casual manner.

This is a very early example of the vetran cop/rookie cop dynamic and Mifune and Shimura handle it especially well together. These two are unique as despite their tasks being quite different they are never really in conflict with one another. Shimura is very good adding a great deal of warmth to the relationship between the two. When Mifune portrays Murakami gettting angry over the crimes or greatly troubled by them Shimura always nicely combats it with his portrayal of Shimura's calm wisdom when it comes to crime. Where Murakami is rather conflicted in his philosophy Sato is firm. Shimura is excellent in the way he brings out this wisdom which he expresses so well as coming from the history of Sato as a cop. When Shimura basically shuts up a stressed out Murakami Shimura is great because he never does it with force but rather in a truly comforting fashion as a father would do for a son.

Takashi Shimura is very good throughout the film effectively bringing to life the wisdom and experience of his character to life. He and Mifune make the dynamic work perfectly and naturally ease into the mentor/student to a mutual friendship that is both believable and very moving when something happens to one of them late in the film. This is a strong performance by Takashi Shimura and simply fascinating the way he shows the much more firm view that Sato takes on morality. He makes the harsher stance that Sato takes on criminals really work because he conveys his feelings as something entirely genuine and something that comes from the fact that he has seen a truly great number of crimes in his lifetime. This is a very good performance by Shimura as he creates this character all the while moving through the film's plot.


RatedRStar said...

I think that Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, and Tatsuya Nakadai are the all time master japanese actors, ive never seen any of them give a bad performance ever.

Lezlie said...

I have never seen this film, though I'd love to.
Off topic: I recently saw Vinterberg's new film The Hunt. I believe that Mads Mikkelsen gave a fantastic, subtle performance, if anyone else saw it, I'd love to hear your opinions on him and the movie. He was also superb in Casino Royale too! :)

RatedRStar said...

I agree I thought Mikkelsen gave two very good performances in The Hunt, and A Royal Affair. He was very good in Casino Royale as well =D very human and realistic.

Lezlie said...

I can't wait to see him as Hannibal Lecter :D

Louis Morgan said...

I haven't seen the Hunt or A Royal Affair yet but I will have to get around to them. I thought Mikkelsen was very good in Casino Royale especially in the torture scene, he's probably my third favorite Bond villain.

RatedRStar: Sorry, I accidentally deleted your last post.

RatedRStar said...

its ok Louis lol =D XD I didnt notice man, im trying to think of other very underated villain performances, anyone seen Yojimbo or Flash Gordon =D.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Flash Gordon is an awesomely bad movie. I say Louis should review BRIAN BLESSED for 1980 Supporting Actor.

RatedRStar said...

it is pretty funny thats for sure, Max Von Sydow and Brian Blessed with his epic voice were hammy as hell but very entertaining lol, as for other underated villains, ya really need to see Yojimbo, Tatsuya Nakadais revolver wielding creep is so cool in that movie and stands as a perfect counterpart to Toshiro Mifune as the cool badass type.