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Yojimbo (1961)

Yôjinbô (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Drama, Thriller | 13 September 1961 (USA)
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.

Director:

Akira Kurosawa

Writers:

Akira Kurosawa (story), Akira Kurosawa (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #117 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Toshirô Mifune ... Sanjuro Kuwabatake / The Samurai
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Unosuke - Gunfighter
Yôko Tsukasa ... Nui
Isuzu Yamada ... Orin
Daisuke Katô Daisuke Katô ... Inokichi - Ushitora's Rotund Brother
Seizaburô Kawazu ... Seibê - Brothel Operator
Takashi Shimura ... Tokuemon - Sake Brewer
Hiroshi Tachikawa Hiroshi Tachikawa ... Yoichiro
Yôsuke Natsuki Yôsuke Natsuki ... Kohei's Son
Eijirô Tôno ... Gonji - Tavern Keeper
Kamatari Fujiwara ... Tazaemon
Ikio Sawamura Ikio Sawamura ... Hansuke
Atsushi Watanabe Atsushi Watanabe ... The Cooper - Coffin-Maker
Susumu Fujita Susumu Fujita ... Homma - Instructor Who Skips Town
Kyû Sazanka Kyû Sazanka ... Ushitora
Edit

Storyline

Sanjuro, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other. His efforts are complicated by the arrival of the wily Unosuke, the son of one of the gangsters, who owns a revolver. Unosuke has Sanjuro beaten after he reunites an abducted woman with her husband and son, then massacres his father's opponents. During the slaughter, the samurai escapes with the help of the innkeeper; but while recuperating at a nearby temple, he learns of innkeeper's abduction by Unosuke, and returns to the town to confront him. Written by Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Venice Festival Award Winner. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

13 September 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Yojimbo See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Perspecta Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Akira Kurosawa told Toshirô Mifune that his character was like a wolf or a dog and told Tatsuya Nakadai that his character was like a snake. Inspired by this direction, Mifune came up with Sanjuro's trademark shoulder twitch, similar to the way a dog or wolf tries to get off fleas. See more »

Goofs

When Sanjuro practices throwing the knife at a leaf, the wire on the knife is clearly visible (the scene was filmed backwards; the knife was actually pulled off the leaf by the wire). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Farmer: [in Japanese] Wait, son.
Traveler: [in Japanese] Let me go, father. It's my chance.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The initial US release ran only 75 minutes, 35 minutes shorter than the original version at 110 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Warriors (1979) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
First class samurai action tale with philosophy to boot
9 November 2002 | by funkyfrySee all my reviews

Classic samurai action pic; often imitated but never equalled. Mifune creates a memorable character (who appeared in a sequel) in the Ronin who decides the course of his life on the toss of a stick, and ends up risking his life to save a village full of peasants he finds revolting. It's possible to see "Yojimbo's" actions as either heroic or as the game of a bored warrior in need of amusement -- as often in Kurosawa's films, the fact that the characters' motives remain open to interpretation adds depth to the film.

Wonderful images, and skillful direction that keeps the pace of the storytelling tight and tells most of the story through images -- this is the kind of film that is so good it can be watched a silent film without losing too much of its impact or meaning.

I think that if Kurosawa had spent more of his time in litigation and less making movies, he might have made a living for the rest of his life off all the movies that have ripped off this movie. Certainly Eastwood's "Man with No Name" character owes a lot to Mifune's contribution; not only in Leone's films (the first of which borrows its entire plot from Kurosawa; a court settlement ensued which made sure Kurosawa made most of the profits from "Fistful of Dollars" in Asia his own) but also in Eastwood's best film as a director -- "High Plains Drifter", which borrows scenes such as Eastwood's rebuke of the villagers from "Yojimbo".

The really funny thing about all this, and what not too many American critics or audiences have noted, is that "Yojimbo" is itself a western. All the ingredients for a western are here, and the film's plot and style obviously owe a debt to Zinnemann's "High Noon". "Yojimbo" even borrows the device of time, setting up a confrontation at 3:00 a.m. as shouted by the town crier. I like "Yojimbo" better than "High Noon", so I don't want to go too far into this line of thought....


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