Drunken Angel (1948)
"Yoidore tenshi" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  30 December 1959 (USA)
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Reviews: 36 user | 61 critic

A drunken doctor with a hot temper and a violence-prone gangster with tuberculosis form a quicksilver bond.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Reizaburô Yamamoto ...
Michiyo Kogure ...
Chieko Nakakita ...
Noriko Sengoku ...
Shizuko Kasagi ...
Eitarô Shindô ...
Masao Shimizu ...
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Shop Proprietor
Chôko Iida ...
Ko Ubukata ...
Akira Tani ...
Yakuza Follower
Sachio Sakai ...
Guitar Player


After a battle with rival criminals, a small-time gangster is treated by an alcoholic doctor in post-war Japan. The doctor diagnoses the young gangster's tuberculosis, and convinces him to begin treatment for it. The two enjoy an uneasy friendship until the gangster's former boss is released from prison and seeks to take over his gang once again. The ailing young man loses his status as gang boss and becomes ostracised, and eventually confronts his former boss in a battle to the death. Written by Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Drunken Angel  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The performance of Toshiro Mifune as the violent young gangster, Matsunaga (his fourth overall and first in a Kurosawa movie), was so powerful and memorable that, according to director Akira Kurosawa, many people in Japan (and presumably elsewhere) falsely assume that the title, "Drunken Angel," was intended to refer to Matsunaga. But Kurosawa had actually intended the title character to be the alcoholic doctor, Sanada (played by Takashi Shimura), who treats Matsunaga, because, for the filmmaker, he is an "angel" for attempting to save the gangster from his illness and violent lifestyle, despite his own weakness for alcohol. See more »


When Matsunaga wakes up in Nanae's bed, he has a wet compress on his chest, under the pajama shirt. When he sits up and takes it off, it is on top of his shirt. See more »


Dr. Sanada: Fall in love for someone like me, I may be scruffy but you get free medical care.
See more »


Featured in Kurosawa and the Censors (2007) See more »


Hitogoroshi no uta
Written by Fumio Hayasaka
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User Reviews

He tormented you, made you sick, and then deserted you like a puppy. And you still wag your tail and follow him.
1 February 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was Toshiro Mifune's first film with Akira Kurosawa, and only his fourth film in his career. he was so young that it was hard to recognize him, even though he was second billed and essential to the story.

The star of this film was Takashi Shimura, who would go on to earn two BAFTA nominations. He was a doctor who was famous for his ability to treat TB patients, but he was also a slave to alcohol. It didn't affect his work much, but he really looked the part of a drunk.

What was even better was his ability to get to the root of problems. The idea that we do some really stupid things recurred throughout, starting with himself. he lived fast and hard as a young man, and it is telling on him now.

We also see his assistant vacillating between giving her man another chance now that he is out of prison, even thoug he mistreated her shamefully. The Doctor (Shimura) is livid with her for even considering it. She hates hime for what he did, but wants to see if he has changed. You can imagine the rage of the doctor at that! The main part of the story involves Toshiro Mifune, as a Yakuza leader, who has TB. He refuses to cooperate in his treatment and this again makes the doctor furious. He cannot understand why he won't make the necessary sacrifices to save his life.

One of the most fascinating features in the movie was seeing Shizuko Kasagi (Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess), as a singer in the dance hall. She reminded me of Cab Calloway in her singing. This was obviously due to the influence of the Americans occupying Japan.

Kirosawa certainly gave us a glimpse of great things to come with this film.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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