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

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  26 November 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 16,955 users  
Reviews: 86 user | 92 critic

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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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
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


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 November 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

High and Low  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


| (Eastmancolor) (inserts only)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film made its American debut in November 1963, the week that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. See more »


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 »


Die Forelle
Written by Franz Schubert
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User Reviews

About the best police procedural you're ever likely to see
7 October 1999 | by (new york city) – See all my reviews

Toshiro Mifune is a businessman in a Japan that is on the brink of the Economic Miracle of the Sixties. He is an honest man who loves his job as a shoe factory exec and is in a battle for corporate control against a pack of hyenas. He has mortgaged and borrowed and scraped to raise the money for a surprise coup when his son is kidnapped. But there is a major plot twist: it is not HIS son that was taken but his son's playmate, the chauffeur's kid and the ransom demanded is astronomical. If he pays he will lose everything he has worked so hard for, but can he just sacrifice the chauffeur's child because it is not his? From here on High and Low (perhaps better translated as Heaven and Hell) is a police procedural based on an Ed McBain 87th precinct story.

Watching this film I had a rare, almost unique, experience. I saw it on a fairly screen tv, letterboxed, in a darkened room. All the preceding conditions helped contribute to put me into an objective/subjective middle ground where I had the feeling of looking through a special visor that allowed me to see the world by means of an almost perfect film as if through the eyes of a cinematic genius who is in total command of his artistic means and in total command of his subject matter. I think the key to this experience is that while High and Low is interesting as human drama, it is yet peculiarly uninvolving emotionally but very involving cinematically. These distances are important in Kurosawa's films (he is high on my list of top ten directors but after Welles). In IKIRU you probably could not be more deeply involved emotionally, while in RAN there is nothing but relentless distance.

I think a good companion film to watch with this would be Kurosawa's earlier, looser, but much more individually tense, police film STRAY DOG (this time Mifune is the cop)

43 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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