Red Beard (1965)
"Akahige" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  19 December 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 10,736 users  
Reviews: 60 user | 46 critic

In 19th century Japan, a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Kyojô Niide
Yûzô Kayama ...
Dr. Noboru Yasumoto
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
Reiko Dan ...
Miyuki Kuwano ...
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Tatsuyoshi Ehara ...
Genzô Tsugawa
Terumi Niki ...
Akemi Negishi ...
Okuni, the mistress
Yoshitaka Zushi ...
Yoshio Tsuchiya ...
Dr. Handayû Mori
Eijirô Tôno ...
Tokubei Izumiya
Mr. Yasumoto
Haruko Sugimura ...
Kin, the madam


In a charity hospital, a hard-bitten but honorable older doctor, Dr. Niide, takes a young intern under his guidance through the course of a number of difficult cases. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

clinic | intern | doctor | japan | japanese | See All (27) »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 December 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barbarroja  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmmaker John Sayles chose "Red Beard" as his favorite film in an AFI survey. See more »


At the brothel where young Otoyo is being rescued: when Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune) prepares to step out of the brothel opening to confront the thugs gathered outside, from the inside camera view, right before he steps through the door flap, there are a couple of thugs standing just right outside the opening. But from the outside shot, which shows Red Beard stepping out, the nearby thugs have changed position, and are now standing much farther away from the opening. See more »


Genzo Tsugawa: It's really terrible here. Being here makes you wonder why you wanted to be a doctor.
Dr. Noboru Yasumoto: [Suddenly noticing an unpleasant odor] It smells like rotten fruit.
Genzo Tsugawa: It's the smell of the poor.
See more »

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User Reviews

Kurosawa's Titanic
23 May 2002 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

This was the sixth Kurosawa film I ever saw, in a film-viewing binge that began with Seven Samurai and has yet to satiate me. It did, however, mark a turning point for me as it did for him.

Up to then, I had only seen the B&W Samurai classics of the 50s and early 60s. The must-sees: not just Seven Samurai, but Yojimbo and Throne of Blood. The under-appreciated Sanjuro, and the light but enduring Hidden Fortress. This was my first non-samurai film from him. What I did not realise until later was that it was his career apotheosis.

Red Beard is not Kurosawa's best film. Yet when it came out, it was a phenomenon much like Titanic 30 years later. It broke the bank, it was an exercise in unprecedented creative and financial power by a major filmmaker, and it appealed to filmgoers like few filmes before or since. Kurosawa built a hospice and miniature village for his characters to inhabit, and this episodic story of a young star doctor discovering a vocation among the poor under the gruff "red beard" (Mifune) feels all the more authentic for it. It is a film of such deliberate ease and confidence that it could only be made by this director, at this point in his career. It could not be anything less than the fullest exploration of his most cherished themes - social injustice, the redemptive power of human kindness, personal codes. It could also do nothing but foreshadow his decline.

That's a lot of expectation to pile onto the unsuspecting viewer, so what do you get during those 3 hours? You get a first-class drama, Mifune's finest performance, and one of the most beautiful tear-jerkers ever to grace a screen. All the while, countless instances of technical brilliance remind you why this film could only be made by this director: a surgery covered in nothing but an extended closeup of the young doctor, an eerie seduction covered in an almost static, dreamlike wide shot, and, halfway through, the ass-kicking of a life-time and its touching follow-up.

This is an extinct form of filmmaking, one preserved in the ember of its stark black-and-white film stock. The cinematic equivalent of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton: there are ways in which you won't relate, but it is daunting, powerful, and a journey into an intriguing other world well worth spending 3 hours in, and then some.

32 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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