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The Quiet Duel (1949)

Shizukanaru kettô (original title)
A surgeon gets syphilis from a patient when he cuts himself during an operation. The doctor's life is destroyed, but unlike the patient, he doesn't destroy others along with him.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Miki Sanjô ...
Kenjirô Uemura ...
Chieko Nakakita ...
Noriko Sengoku ...
Apprentice Nurse Rui Minegishi
Jyonosuke Miyazaki ...
Cpl. Horiguchi
Isamu Yamaguchi ...
Patrolman Nosaka
Shigeru Matsumoto ...
Boy with appendicitis
Hiroko Machida ...
Nurse Imai
Kan Takami ...
Kisao Tobita ...
Boy with typhoid
Shigeyuki Miyajima ...
Tadashi Date ...
Father of boy with appendicitis
Etsuko Sudo ...
Mother of boy with appendicitis


In 1944, in WWII, Dr. Kyoji Fujisaki cuts his finger with the scalpel during a surgery in a field hospital and is infected by spirochete from his patient Susumu Nakada. After the blood test, he realizes that he has contracted syphilis, but he does not have the necessary medicine to treat the disease. He advises Nakada to seek medical treatment for his disease. In 1946, after the war, he breaks off his six years engagement with his beloved fiancée Misao Matsumoto but he does not tell the truth but lets her go and find another man to get married. The hopeless apprentice, nurse Rui Minegishi, witnesses Kioji injecting Salvarsan to treat his syphilis, and first she misunderstands why the doctor is sick. Later, after discovering the truth about his disease, she changes her behavior and becomes the confident listener of the doctor's inner feelings. When Kyoji accidentally meets Nakada in the police station of his town and finds that his wife is pregnant, he warns the reckless man about the ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Release Date:

30 November 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Quiet Duel  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Quiet Duel (1949) came in seventh on Kinema Jumpo's list of the Top Ten Films of 1949. See more »


Dr. Konosuke Fujisaki: If he had been happy, he might have become just a snob.
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User Reviews

Glimpses of things to come in early Kurosawa

The Quiet Duel features Mifune's second role for Kurosawa, as a young doctor who contracts syphilis from operating on a patient in WWII South Pacific. This alone constitutes the opening and perhaps most riveting sequence of the film. In the little shack where the operation take place, effects of irritation and discomfort hit a high note with the leaking roof, pestering flies, and assaulting humidity. This shabby condition breaks Mifune's concentration and leads him to cut himself in the patient's infected blood. There is much beautiful play of light and shadow across the virginal white uniforms of the doctors.

When Mifune goes back to his father's (Takashi Shimura) medical practice in Japan after the war, the film staggers in cajoling our empathy for the hero's incredulous dilemma: How to protect his fiancee - whom he has kept waiting for six years during the war - from the syphilis he contracted abroad, yet to be honest with himself and his own physical desires. The movie strives to be the tragic love story of a sexually unfulfilled man, an Unjustifiably Tainted Virgin who pains in silence. He is so saintly that his self-denial (abstinence) inspires a single mother (Noriko Sengoku) to become a certified nurse. Despite relatively good performance from the actors, the story of a saintly individual done wrong by a disease that is symbolically social restricts itself to melodramatic proportions.

Thankfully, there is a subplot involving the patient, aka the agent of Doctor Mifune's syphilis. As irresponsible (and promiscuous) as he is, he gives syphilis to his own wife and this ends ups killing their first born. The wife is a victim in the sense that Mifune contracted his disease, and much of Kurosawa's famed humanism involves the wife's recovery from her stillborn and the promise of her eventually ridding syphilis.

This film was made just after several labor strikes broke out at Toho, Kurosawa's home studio. The strikes had devastating effects on the unity and creative synergy of film talents in Japan then, and Kurosawa made this '49 film under Daiei-- with a relatively inexperienced production unit and using a contemporary stageplay that would not alienate moviegoers. The result is vastly uneven, aside from the fantastic opening that is classic Kurosawa. Further, this film continues the cultivation of a Kurosawa-obsession: that of a saintly doctor who, despite his own faults, tries to be his most honest with the world. This can be first seen in Drunken Angel's Dr. Sanada, and later - most memorably - in Red Beard's Akahige/Dr.Niide.

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