What a Movie!

High & Low (1963, Akira Kurosawa) – Brandon's movie memory

Every now and then we like to watch a movie with some meat to it, and a story that needs telling. Yesterday we found a keeper: High and Low (1963), directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune–and right there you know it’s gonna be great. Based on a classic police story by Ed McBain.

If you ever wondered why God treats envy as a sin, this film will clue you in. It’s all about the destructive power of envy. Mifune’s character overcomes his own darker side; the villain in the story, devoured by envy, can’t. And I wonder if I ought to warn you: this is powerful stuff.

There are some plot twists in here that’ll knock you for a loop, with another volcanic performance by Mifune, one of the world’s great film actors, and another great story by Kurosawa, one of the world’s great directors, who often lent a hand in writing his movies’ screenplays.

And never mind that it’s a Japanese movie! Kurosawa was great because he spoke to all of us; that’s why his movies never grow old. High and Low is set in modern times, but Kurosawa’s samurai epics touch all times and peoples.

So, yes, envy is a sin, and High and Low superbly teaches that. I don’t know whether Kurosawa was a Christian, although Mifune was (his parents were Methodist missionaries).

Envy is the mother’s milk of left-wing ideologies. That’s why they do so much damage. The bad guy in High and Low missed his calling as a 21st-century Democrat in America. He had to settle for being a kidnapper in 1963 Japan.

‘Bell Mountain’ in Japanese

Vintage Novels: The Bell Mountain Series 1-4 by Lee Duigon

Our friend Joshua and his mother have finished their work of translating my book, Bell Mountain, into Japanese.

It’s also been translated into Portuguese.

This was a lot of work and it took quite a while. Now the trick is to get it published. Joshua has some ideas about that.

I guess because I’ve watched too many Toshiro Mifune movies I expected the Japanese title of my book to sound like something in a movie–Suzo-no-Yama (“Yama” means mountain, one of the few Japanese words I know). But it only turned out to be Belu Maontehn (and I think the U is silent). Oh, well. We can’t all be in a Zatoichi (“The Blind Swordsman”) story.

I’m humbled that Joshua thought so highly of my book that he wished to do all that work on it, all of which he volunteered. But that also tells me I’ve created something worthwhile, by the grace of God.

Mifune would’ve made a great Helki the Rod.

It’s Getting to Me

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Current events are worming their way into my subconscious!

Last night I dreamed Toshiro Mifune, in full samurai garb, went to our local supermarket to buy paper towels. He bought a pack of 27 rolls, which was all they had available. And when he was out of the store, the rolls of paper towels turned into bad samurai and attacked him, necessitating some very fancy sword-play.

Paper towels? Toshiro must’ve thought he was lucky to get ’em–the last pack of towels left on the shelves. When I was there the other day, there weren’t any.

I do not want to dream about current events. I get enough of that all day. Saturation nooze coverage! It’s always one story eating up all the others. Fap! You can’t even make a proper Toshiro Mifune movie out of it.

‘The Best Movies That Were Never Made’ (2013)

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I know some of you don’t like movies–well, the kind of movies they’re making now, who can blame you? But I want to go back to the classics: in this case, classics that were never actually made.

The Best Movies That Were Never Made

There are plenty of great movies that were never made. I’ve only mentioned three–which gives you scope to volunteer a few of your own favorites.

‘The Best Movies That Were Never Made’ (2013)

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These are great movies that absolutely should have been made!


Okay, anyone can play this game–imagine a movie you would have loved to see, but which never got made. We could have a lot of fun with this, if a bunch of you played along with me.

I just re-read Only in New England recently. Otto Preminger, how could you have let this one slip past you? Joseph Cotten, was your agent asleep? *Sigh* It would’ve been a classic.

A Rave Review for ‘Paper Tiger’

We’ve just watched Paper Tiger (1975), which Patty gave me for my birthday. We rented it once, years ago, and never forgot it. But as much as we liked it then, it blows our socks off now. At last! A movie I can turn cartwheels over.

Toshiro Mifune–not playing a samurai, for once–is the Japanese ambassador to an unnamed Asian dictatorship, who hires David Niven as a tutor for his little boy. Niven has, shall we say, padded his resume, giving himself out as a decorated war hero and international adventurer. In reality, he’s been a quiet country schoolmaster all his life. But his employers don’t know that, and he soon fills little Koichi’s head with all sorts of tall tales about his death-defying wartime heroics. In fact, he was never in the army.

Rebels kidnap Koichi and his tutor, threatening to murder them unless the dictator releases political prisoners. Things look bad, and poor Niven, now that he actually has an adventure, can’t cope. He must now confront the truth about himself, and admit that he’s a total fraud.

But it can’t stop there, because the little boy won’t let it. His faith in his tutor, and his love, force Niven to engineer their escape from the rebels. He conks out the guard, steals the car, and they barrel down a mountain with no brakes and no control. Surviving the crash, they have to push through the jungle and then climb up the mountain with the rebels chasing them and shooting at them. And I’ll stop there, to avoid spoilers.

You know what’s so cool about this story? At no time do the writers ever resort to the impossible, or even the wildly improbable. Nor does it hurt to have two of the 20the century’s greatest actors in the starring roles. On top of all that, the story is also quite moving.

Paper Tiger isn’t easy to get, but Patty finally found it on amazon.com, and are we glad we have it in our library!