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High and Low (1963)
"Tengoku to jigoku" (original title)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 13,997 users  
Reviews: 72 user | 85 critic

An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: High and Low (1963)

High and Low (1963) on IMDb 8.3/10

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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Reiko Gondo
Tatsuya Mihashi ...
Kawanishi - Gondo's Secretary
Isao Kimura ...
Detective Arai
Kenjirô Ishiyama ...
Chief Detective 'Bos'n' Taguchi
Takeshi Katô ...
Detective Nakao
...
Jun Tazaki ...
Kamiya, National Shoes Publicity Director
Nobuo Nakamura ...
Ishimaru, National Shoes Design Department Director
Yûnosuke Itô ...
Baba - National Shoes Executive
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
Ginjirô Takeuchi - Medical Intern
Minoru Chiaki ...
First Reporter
Eijirô Tôno ...
Factory Worker
Masao Shimizu ...
Prison Warden
Edit

Storyline

An executive mortgages all he owns to stage a coup and gain control of the National Shoe Company, with the intent of keeping the company out of the hands of incompetent and greedy executives. He needs the same money, though, to pay the ransom that will possibly save a child's life. His resolution of that dilemma -- the certain loss of the company vs. the probable loss of the child -- makes for one distinct drama, and an ensuing elaborate police procedure makes for a second. Written by levin <levin@world.std.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ransom | shoe | chauffeur | police | train | See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 November 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

High and Low  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

| (Eastmancolor) (inserts only)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The tenth and last film directed by Akira Kurosawa to feature Minoru Chiaki. See more »

Quotes

Chief Detective Tokura: That Gondo is all right.
Chief Detective 'Bos'n' Taguchi: Usually I waste no love on the rich. I didn't like him at first.
See more »

Connections

Remade as High and Low See more »

Soundtracks

The Magic Begins
(uncredited)
Performed by Yumi Shirakawa
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The film "Ransom" could have been.
27 July 2004 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"High and Low" is one of those deceptive detective-thrillers that sneak in under your radar and grab you from behind with their storytelling magic. It's proof positive of Kurosawa's mastery of film and all its imagery.

The story was adapted from an Ed McBain "87th Precinct" novel, "King's Ransom", and is really very simple. A successful businessman (Mr. Gondo) in the middle of a major deal is told his son has been kidnapped. All concerns about money fly out the window...until Gondo learns it was actually his chauffeur's son who was taken by mistake. Doesn't matter; the kidnapper still wants him to pay the ransom, even though it will bankrupt him. Will Gondo destroy his standing in the business world to save the life of a child that is not even his? Or will he just leave it to the police and fate to determine whether the child lives or dies? This makes up the first half of the film.

The second half deals with the search for the kidnapper and his accomplices, and it does not shy away from showing how dull and grueling good police work is. Step by step, the cops narrow their field of suspects and build their evidence to link their prey to murder as well as the kidnapping, meaning he would face execution. This makes up the second half of the film.

It helps to know that in the original story, the businessman refuses to pay the ransom but does help the police track down the kidnappers. It also helps to understand that in Japan, working your way up from making shoes and satchels by hand to being in a position where you could wind up owning the company is a HUGE accomplishment in a caste driven society. It means he is due additional respect, and this is what Gondo faces losing if he pays the ransom, which is far more important than the fact that he will be driven into bankruptcy.

From the first scene through an amazingly exciting section on a bullet train to the ending moments between Gondo and the kidnapper, Kurosawa shows exactly why he is a master of cinema. To take what is basically an episode of "Law and Order" and make it into a meditation on the meaning of life and evil is not something just any film school twit could do.

To me, the best moment on a human level comes when Gondo descends the stairs the morning after the kidnapping to explain to the police why he cannot pay the ransom for a child not even his. You can see the man realizing he is allowing himself go to hell in order to protect his family and station in life, and Toshiro Mifune underplays it beautifully...and Kurosawa lets it just simply happen. Wonderful.

THIS is the movie Mel Gibson's "Ransom" wishes it had been. something real and human and meaningful instead of merely kick-ass.

Ten out of ten stars.


43 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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