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High and Low (1963)

Tengoku to jigoku (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 26 November 1963 (USA)
An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Kingo Gondo
... Chief Detective Tokura
... Reiko Gondo
... Kawanishi - Gondo's Secretary
Isao Kimura ... Detective Arai
Kenjirô Ishiyama ... Chief Detective 'Bos'n' Taguchi
Takeshi Katô ... Detective Nakao
... Chief of Investigation Section
Jun Tazaki ... Kamiya, National Shoes Publicity Director
Nobuo Nakamura ... Ishimaru, National Shoes Design Department Director
Yûnosuke Itô ... Baba - National Shoes Executive
... Ginjirô Takeuchi - Medical Intern
... First Reporter
... Factory Worker
Masao Shimizu ... Prison Warden
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Storyline

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 | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From Akira Kurosawa, director of "Yojimbo" and "Sanjuro" comes a tense, taut film of a modern "perfect crime" with more excitement than even Hitchcock could create. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 November 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

High and Low  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

| (Eastmancolor) (inserts only)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Quentin Tarantino gets the idea for his famous "Swing Dance Scene" from this movie , when the kidnapper is at the bar meeting to score some snuff and he dances with the seller as they make their exit to a similar swing song and the exact same dance featured in Pulp Fiction. See more »

Goofs

When the police is reviewing the footage from the train (where the kidnappers retrieve the briefcase), the camera rotates 180 degrees backwards and, despite it having been recorded from the cabin, the view is never blocked. See more »

Quotes

Kawanishi - Gondo's Secretary: I know how much this money means to you, but a human life means more.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Now or Never
(uncredited)
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

 
About the best police procedural you're ever likely to see
7 October 1999 | by 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)


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