8.0/10
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The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 22 January 1963 (USA)
A vengeful young man marries the daughter of a corrupt industrialist in order to seek justice for his father's suicide.

Director:

Akira Kurosawa
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Toshirô Mifune ... Kôichi Nishi
Masayuki Mori ... Public Corporation Vice President Iwabuchi
Kyôko Kagawa ... Yoshiko Nishi
Tatsuya Mihashi ... Tatsuo Iwabuchi
Takashi Shimura ... Administrative Officer Moriyama
Kô Nishimura ... Contract Officer Shirai
Takeshi Katô ... Itakura
Kamatari Fujiwara ... Assistant-to-the-Chief Wada
Chishû Ryû ... Public Prosecutor Nonaka
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Prosecutor Okakura
Kôji Mitsui ... Reporter A
Ken Mitsuda Ken Mitsuda ... Public Corporation President Arimura
Nobuo Nakamura ... Legal Adviser
Susumu Fujita Susumu Fujita ... Detective
Kôji Nanbara ... Prosecutor Horiuchi
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Storyline

It is a high-profile wedding: the daughter of Mr Iwabuchi, a wealthy businessman, is marrying Mr Nishi, a car salesman. However, Mr Iwabuchi and other senior members of his company are suspected of corporate malfeasance and the wedding becomes a bit of a farce, with the press swarming all over it. To add to the discord, the company officials are rather publicly reminded of an ignominious event which occurred a few years ago - a senior employee committed suicide by jumping from the 7th floor of their offices. Now other senior officials are committing suicide and it looks like it is related to that death of a few years ago. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The smashed car at the film's dramatic climax is a Studebaker. See more »

Quotes

Tatsuo Iwabuchi: Yoshiko, he's using you. You're just a pawn for his vengeance.
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Alternate Versions

Originally released at 151 in Japan; USA version removes 16 minutes of footage. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Roujin Z (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus
(uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Played at the end of the wedding ceremony
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User Reviews

 
The Bad do indeed sleep well in this overlooked Kurosawa...
20 February 2006 | by vikramas1109See all my reviews

"The Bad Sleep Well" is a forgotten gem from one of Japan's great masters, Akira Kurosawa. His other two Shakespeare adaptations, "Throne of Blood" (Macbeth) and "Ran" (King Lear), are much more famous and well-regarded, justifiably so if you have seen them ("Ran" is particular is my favorite of all Kurosawa films). However, this sharp and caustic adaptation of Hamlet deserves an equal amount of praise and recognition. It may be the most bleak subject matter that Kurosawa ever tackled - the corruption in the highest levels of government in post-war Japan.

The film begins with a long but funny wedding sequence that illustrates Kurosawa's great skill as a director. We (and the camera) are among a group of reporters discussing the numerous convenient reasons for the marriage; the bride is lame and the daughter of Iwabuchi, the head of corporation, and the bridegroom, Nishi, has aspirations to elevate his status in the business. We see the comedy of manners play out in this sequence in increasingly humorous situations as the various parties deny the rumors and reporters continue comment to each other, culminating in the panicked looks on the faces of the corporate higher-ups as the wedding cake arrives - in the shape of their office building, Public Corp., with a red X marking a spot in one of the windows where one of their former partners committed suicide. It's a virtuoso sequence that perfectly sets up the tone of the rest of the film.

The newspapers have a field day with this, especially when various members of Public Corp. are investigated for fraud and embezzlement, yet they stoically remain silent and the case goes nowhere. Then it heats up again as a few of them commit suicide; the rumors are that they were goaded into doing so (n fact, they were). However, without any substance to press the matter, the case is dropped. And that's when the real story begins - one of the Public Corp executives, Wada, survives and is rescued by Nishi and his shadowy accomplice, Itakura.

This is followed by a brilliant scene in which Wada is taken to his own funeral and observes the farce - all the while, Nishi plays him a tape with Moriyama and Shirai, his former partners, plotting his murder. The way Kurosawa stages this is masterful; the sublime music emanating from the funeral is contrasted dramatically with the cold-blooded words of Public Corp, as Wada listens on. One of the ways Wada contributes is to scare the living hell out of Shirai - Wada poses as a ghost of himself in order to freak him out (a clever method of adding in the ghost in Hamlet). As the plot progresses, Nishi reveals his reasons for saving Wada and exacting a very personal revenge on Iwabuchi and his cohorts; and the story's pace becomes more frantic and exciting with a dramatic but sudden conclusion.

Technically, Kurosawa is at his best here. The wedding and the funeral are both marvels of observational behavior and they contrast each other perfectly. He uses a lot of intriguing mise-en-scene compositions for his interiors that serve to highlight his characters' inner thoughts but very little movement of the camera in order to manipulate his audience; the dark nature of the story is enough to suck you in. One of the fascinating observations in "The Bad Sleep Well" is that nearly all of the characters are morally bankrupt and filled with secrets - even Nishi, the protagonist. His wife, the Ophelia character, is the only one that Kurosawa allows us to feel sympathy for, and even then in the end she is not fully spared her grief. Taken in this context, Kurosawa's Hamlet becomes a study in the morality and pragmatism of revenge but also an incisive jab at the fat cats in modern Japan.

If there is a flaw in the film, it is that the overall pacing is not always brisk enough to sustain the long running time (2 1/2 hours). The wedding, despite being absolutely essential, is protracted; the rest of the film is much quicker but still drags in parts. Also, Kurosawa seems unsure about his ending; the film ends quite abruptly but appropriately in terms of his larger point about the hopelessness of fighting the rampant corruption, I would argue. However, despite these flaws, overall "The Bad Sleep Well" is a masterful and dark excursion into the seedy side of corporate crime, using Shakespeare Hamlet brilliantly but not completely as it's core. Toshiro Mifune in particular gives one of his most unique low-key performances; instead of his usual fiery exterior we get a performance full of internalized anger throughout. Highly recommended.


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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

22 January 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bad Sleep Well See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,942, 28 July 2002

Gross USA:

$46,808

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$46,808
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Perspecta Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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