Toshiro Mifune Turns 100

Toshiro Mifune Turns 100

28 Episodes

Akira Kurosawa once said, “The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression. Toshiro Mifune needed only three feet.” However, the filmmaker certainly gave Mifune—born on April 1, 1920—a lot of space: over the course of sixteen indelible collaborations, the actor and the director created some of the most dynamic characters ever put on-screen, all marked by an explosive physicality, live-wire intensity, and surprising tenderness. Discovered by Kurosawa during an open audition at Toho Studios, Mifune would go on to inhabit a wide variety of roles—from gangsters to samurai to salarymen—in the director’s greatest films, masterpieces like STRAY DOG, RASHOMON, SEVEN SAMURAI, THE BAD SLEEP WELL, and HIGH AND LOW. Further cementing his status as an icon of Japanese cinema with his commanding turns in classics by Kenji Mizoguchi, Keisuke Kinoshita, and Hiroshi Inagaki, Mifune left behind a formidable legacy as one of the most electrifying performers of the twentieth century.

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Toshiro Mifune Turns 100
  • Toshiro Mifune Turns 100 Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Introducing Toshiro Mifune

    Episode 2

    The following interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith was recorded in 2020.

  • Snow Trail

    Episode 3

    Directed by Senkichi Taniguchi • 1947 • Japan

    The keepers of an inn high in the Japanese alps are unaware that their three guests are actually fugitive bank robbers. Directed by Senkichi Taniguchi.

  • Drunken Angel

    Episode 4

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1948 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician. S...

  • Stray Dog

    Episode 5

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1949 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo’s sweltering streets for the stray dog w...

  • Wedding Ring

    Episode 6

    Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita • 1950 • Japan

    A jewelry store president begins to fall for the doctor treating her husband's illness. Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita.

  • Rashomon

    Episode 7

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1950 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori

    A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, RASHOMON is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accou...

  • Scandal
    1:44:59
    Episode 8

    Scandal

    Episode 8

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1950 • Japan

    A handsome, suave Toshiro Mifune lights up the screen as painter Ichiro, whose circumstantial meeting with a famous singer (Yoshiko Yamaguchi) is twisted by the tabloid press into a torrid affair. Ichiro files a lawsuit against the seedy gossip magazine,...

  • The Idiot

    Episode 9

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1951 • Japan

    In post-World War II Japan, childlike veteran Kinji suffers from post-traumatic stress-induced seizures, and, after treatment at a mental health institution in Okinawa, he returns to his hometown. There he meets and becomes romantically caught up with tw...

  • The Life of Oharu

    Episode 10

    Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1952 • Japan
    Starring Kinuyo Tanaka, Toshiro Mifune, Masao Shimizu

    A peerless chronicler of the soul who specialized in supremely emotional, visually exquisite films about the circumstances of women in Japanese society, Kenji Mizoguchi had already been directing mov...

  • Vendetta of a Samurai

    Episode 11

    Directed by Kazuo Mori • 1952 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    Scripted by Akira Kurosawa and directed by period specialist Kazuo Mori, this revisionist samurai tale stars the mighty Toshiro Mifune as legendary swordsman Mataemon Araki, who aids a young man in his quest to avenge...

  • Seven Samurai

    Episode 12

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1954 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima

    One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, SEVEN SAMURAI (SHICHININ NO SAMURAI) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to pro...

  • Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

    Episode 13

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki • 1954 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Rentaro Mikuni, Kuroemon Onoe

    In the first part of the epic Samurai Trilogy, Toshiro Mifune thunders onto the screen as the iconic title character. When we meet him, Miyamoto is a wide-eyed romantic, dreaming of military glory i...

  • I Live in Fear

    Episode 14

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1955 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki

    Both the final film of this period in which Akira Kurosawa would directly wrestle with the demons of the Second World War and his most literal representation of living in an atomic age, the galvanizing I LIVE IN FEA...

  • Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple

    Episode 15

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki • 1955 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Koji Tsuruta, Kaoru Yachigusa

    Toshiro Mifune furiously embodies swordsman Musashi Miyamoto as he comes into his own in the action-packed middle section of the Samurai Trilogy. DUEL AT ICHIJOJI TEMPLE furthers Miyamoto along his ...

  • Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

    Episode 16

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki • 1956 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Koji Tsuruta, Kaoru Yachigusa

    A disillusioned Musashi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune) has turned his back on the samurai life, becoming a farmer in a remote village, while his nemesis Kojiro (Koji Tsuruta) now works for the shogun. Ci...

  • Throne of Blood

    Episode 17

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1957 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Minoru Chiaki

    A vivid, visceral “Macbeth” adaptation, THRONE OF BLOOD, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan....

  • The Lower Depths

    Episode 18

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1957 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Kyoko Kagawa

    Jean Renoir and Akira Kurosawa, two of cinema’s greatest directors, transform Maxim Gorky’s classic proletariat play “The Lower Depths” in their own ways for their own times. Renoir, working amidst the ...

  • The Hidden Fortress

    Episode 19

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1958 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki

    A grand-scale adventure as only Akira Kurosawa could make one, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS stars the inimitable Toshiro Mifune as a general charged with guarding his defeated clan’s princess (a fierce Misa Ueha...

  • Muhomatsu, the Rickshaw Man

    Episode 20

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki • 1958 • Japan

    Matsugoro is a poor rickshaw driver whose animated spirit and optimistic demeanor make him a favorite of the town. Matsu helps an injured boy, Toshio, and is hired by the boy's parents, Kotaro and Yoshioko, to transport the boy to and from doctor appoin...

  • The Bad Sleep Well

    Episode 21

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1960 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Tatsuya Mihashi

    A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing THE BAD SLEEP WELL. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines element...

  • Yojimbo
    1:50:52
    Episode 22

    Yojimbo

    Episode 22

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1961 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa

    The incomparable Toshiro Mifune stars in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic YOJIMBO. To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro turns a range war...

  • Sanjuro
    1:35:54
    Episode 23

    Sanjuro

    Episode 23

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1962 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi

    Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Akira Kurosawa’s tightly paced, beautifully composed SANJURO. In this sly companion piece to YOJIMBO, jaded samurai SANJURO helps an...

  • High and Low

    Episode 24

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1963 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi

    Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in HIGH AND LOW (TENGOKU TO JIGOKU), the highly influential domesti...