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High and Low (1963)

Tengoku to jigoku (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 26 November 1963 (USA)
An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Reiko Gondo
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
First Reporter
Eijirô Tôno ...
Factory Worker
Masao Shimizu ...
Prison Warden


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


From Akira Kurosawa, director of "Yojimbo" and "Sanjuro" comes a tense, taut film of a modern "perfect crime" with more excitement than even Hitchcock could create. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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)


| (Eastmancolor) (inserts only)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


After the film was released, kidnappings were on the rise in Japan. Kurosawa himself had received threats for the kidnapping of his own daughter, Kazuko. She quoted him as once saying to her "With High and Low, I wanted to inspire tougher sentences on kidnappers. Instead, I was criticized for their increase." See more »


Kingo Gondo: Why should you and I hate each other?
Ginjirô Takeuchi, medical intern: I don't know. I'm not interested in self-analysis. I do know my room was so cold in winter and so hot in summer I couldn't sleep. Your house looked like heaven, high up there. That's how I began to hate you.
See more »


Remade as Tengoku to jigoku (2007) See more »


Die Forelle
Written by Franz Schubert
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User Reviews

Another Great Film from Japan's Master Filmmaker
23 September 1999 | by (Atlanta) – See all my reviews

While I've seen HIGH AND LOW referred to as a "film noir," a "detective drama," a "riveting game of cat-and-mouse," and so on into infinity, I think those terms tend to underestimate some very great films (such as this and Kubrick's THE KILLING) and attempts to place them within boundaries over which the expanse of a few powerful films such as these spill.

Indeed HIGH AND LOW is a story involving some familiar techniques from film noir; the detective story; and the hunter-and-hunted storyline, but it surpasses so many films that might be included in a list of fine films noires. It, in true Kurosawa style (one which Stanley Kubrick matched blow-for-blow, seeming to complement one another in their stunning gifts to the cinema), stands as a fable showing the differences and tensions which the coexistance of different classes creates.

Gondo, the rich on high, receives torment from those who live below him, being literally perched upon a hill, overlooking the city in a feudalistic way, in which the king's palace gazes down upon the serfs below. As the kidnapper says, "it's hot as hell down here. But you wouldn't know that, you have air conditioning." Thus we see the parallels pile upon each other: it is about class warfare but also shows the differences between heaven and hell; and Gondo makes both a descent and ascent simultaneously.

The plot is simple, but the truth is complicated, and I won't go into it here, but take my word as it stands: this is an amazing piece of film. See it now or regret it! Every Kurosawa film is sublime.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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