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 16,980 users  
Reviews: 85 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


| (Eastmancolor) (inserts only)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

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 »


Referenced in Obsession (1976) See more »


It's Now or Never
from "O Sole Mio" by Eduardo Di Capua and Alfredo Mazzucchi
Adapted by Wally Gold and Aaron Schröder
See more »

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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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