The Bad Sleep Well


2h 15m 1963
The Bad Sleep Well

Brief Synopsis

A man seeks revenge by marrying the daughter of his father's enemy.

Film Details

Also Known As
Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Jan 1963
Production Company
Kurosawa Films; Toho Co.
Distribution Company
Toho International, Inc.
Country
Japan
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m

Synopsis

An elaborate wedding reception for Keiko, the daughter of President Iwabuchi of the Unutilized Land Development Corporation, and Koichi Nishi, the president's secretary, is interrupted when corporate executive Wada is arrested on charges of embezzlement. The incident reminds the press of an earlier scandal involving Iwabuchi, administrative officer Moriyama, and contract officer Shirai; the case was hushed up after the apparent suicide of Assistant Chief Furuya. Following the wedding, the police question Wada and accountant Miura about bribery of corporation officials by a construction company. As a result of the inquiry, Miura commits suicide, and Wada attempts to take his own life but is stopped by Nishi, who is revealed to be the son of Furuya. Determined to avenge his father's death, Nishi uses Wada to force Shirai to confess to the murder of Furuya. Nishi then abducts Moriyama and learns the hiding place of the stolen money and records. Nishi's ultimate aim is to destroy President Iwabuchi, but his growing love for Keiko, whom he married initially to further his revenge, causes him to hesitate. Upon learning Nishi's true identity, Iwabuchi arranges for Wada and Nishi to be killed in an automobile crash.

Film Details

Also Known As
Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Jan 1963
Production Company
Kurosawa Films; Toho Co.
Distribution Company
Toho International, Inc.
Country
Japan
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m

Articles

The Bad Sleep Well


Akira Kurosawa directed The Bad Sleep Well, a modern-day crime drama starring Toshiro Mifune, in 1960. By then he had already made some of his most celebrated films, including the samurai pictures Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), and Throne of Blood (1957). His movies of the 1940s and 1950s all relied on outside financing, however, and as the debut project of his own company, Kurosawa Productions, The Bad Sleep Well marked a new phase in his career. "From this film on, I was responsible for everything," he recalled later. "Consequently, when I began, I wondered what kind of film to make. A film made only to make money did not appeal to me – one should not take advantage of an audience. Instead, I wanted to make a movie of some social significance."

Kurosawa had done this before. Rashomon, the film that made him internationally famous, is a philosophical tale about the reliability of law and the relativity of truth; I Live in Fear (1955) deals with cold-war dread of nuclear catastrophe; The Lower Depths (1957) explores the exploitation and abuse of slum dwellers. Looking for a similarly important subject to launch his production unit, he decided to do "something about corruption." The reason for this choice, he told Japanese film authority Donald Richie, was that "it has always seemed to me that graft, bribery, etc., at the public level, is one of the worst crimes that there is." His target was evildoers who "hide behind the façade of some great company or corporation" to prevent others from knowing "how dreadful they really are, what awful things they do."

The Bad Sleep Well starts with a wedding, depicted with a richness of detail that may remind today's viewers of The Godfather (1972), which also opens with marriage festivities where a criminal undercurrent runs below the surface of the occasion. The couple being wed are Keiko, the daughter of a government housing-corporation president named Iwabuchi, and Nishi, the president's secretary. Many guests have arrived to eat, drink, and toast the bride and groom, and a number of journalists are looking on from the sidelines, looking for a dramatic event to write about for their papers. Drama starts building when Keiko's brother suggests in a speech that Nishi may be using her to climb higher in the company's power structure. Things get even edgier when the wedding cake arrives, made in the form of a building where a vice president committed suicide during a bribery investigation five years earlier – and the cake has a flag hanging from the very window he jumped from. Then the police barge in, disrupting the celebration by arresting Wada, an executive of the firm, for embezzlement. The journalists have plenty to write about now.

Uproar deepens into mystery when Wada runs off to kill himself but then reappears as a ghostly presence seen by Shirai, an employee who was involved in the scandal five years before. Bringing these threads together, it turns out that the newly married Nishi isn't Nishi after all. He's actually Furuya, the son of the executive who jumped from the building in the bribery case, and he has taken on a false identity to get revenge on Iwabuchi for driving his real father to suicide. He married Keiko so he could destroy the president from within his own family, and he prevented Wada's suicide so he could use the terrified man as a tool. In the film's last portion, "Nishi" kidnaps, confines, and tortures another company officer by starvation, demanding the location of tainted money and records that he can use to bring Iwabuchi and the corporation down. But he has come to love Keiko by this time, and she – loving him and also her endangered father – starts a series of events that lead to a violent finale.

This may sound complicated, but at two and a half hours, Kurosawa has time to make things clear, and while he baffles us occasionally, it's usually as a way of building audience curiosity and suspense. In any case, the movie's messages are impossible to miss. The corporate world is portrayed as a many-layered morass of scandal, deceit, larceny, manipulation, murder, and revenge. Almost all the important characters are up to their eyeballs in the muck, serving as perpetrators, victims, and sometimes both in succession. Kurosawa is best known for his tales of samurai adventure in medieval Japan, and this twentieth-century melodrama can be interpreted as a warning that reactionary feudalism lingers on in Japan's unbending system of intermingled corporate and political structures. As critic Bosley Crowther wrote in his favorable New York Times review, Kurosawa's "bitter and cynical recounting of the failure of a right-thinking young man...to expose and thus get revenge on a group of old corporation robbers might almost be taken as a reflection of modern cynicism toward the old war lords in Japan." Seen this way, the pseudonymous Nishi becomes a latter-day version of the medieval swordsman, determined to avenge his family's honor but thwarted by his own capacity for love. The movie's style heightens the mood, with slightly overwrought performances – not surprisingly, the best comes from Mifune as the false Nishi – straining against the visual starkness of office walls, bombed-out landscapes, and dark, menacing streets. The music by Masaru Sato is less effective, lapsing into counterproductive cuteness at inappropriate moments.

Many moviegoers find The Bad Sleep Well a lesser achievement than Kurosawa's 1963 thriller High and Low, which also involves kidnapping, greed, and corporate power. Not everyone agrees with this assessment, but Kurosawa himself wasn't quite satisfied with The Bad Sleep Well, feeling that the movie as a whole doesn't live up to the high quality of its early portions. Even when it was in production, he admitted, "I knew that it wasn't working out as I had planned and that this was because I was simply not telling and showing enough." In the final scene, for instance, we see Iwabuchi on the phone, and we're meant to infer that this is one of many calls he has made to some high government official even more corrupt than he is. The indirect way this is presented, Kurosawa realized later, is "not explicit enough...but in Japan if you go any further than that you are bound to run into serious trouble." He added that perhaps "the picture would have been better if I had been braver....Maybe I could have in a big country like America. Japan, however, cannot be this free and this makes me sad." The self-imposed limitations of Japanese cinema in the post-World War II era is another intriguing subject to think about when watching this flawed but steadily interesting drama.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay: Hideo Oguni, Eijiro Hisaita, Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto
Cinematographer: Yuzuru Aizawa
Art Direction: Yoshiro Muraki
Music: Masaru Sato
With: Toshiro Mifune (Nishi), Masayuki Mori (Iwabuchi), Kyoko Kagawa (Yoshiko Nishi), Tatsuya Mihashi (Tatsuo), Takashi Shimura (Moriyama), Ko Nishimura (Shirai), Takeshi Kato (Itakura), Kamatari Fujiwara (Wada), Chishu Ryu (Nonaka), Seiji Miyaguchi (Okakura), Koji Mitsui (reporter), Ken Mitsuda (Arimura), Nobuo Nakamura (legal adviser), Susumu Fujita (detective), Koji Nanbara (Horiuchi), Gen Shimizu (Miura), Yoshifumi Tajima (reporter), Sensho Matsumoto (Hatano), Yoshio Tsuchiya (secretary), Kyu Sazanka (Kaneko), Kin Sugai (Wada), Natsuko Kahara (Mrs. Furuya), Nobuko Tashiro (Mrs. Moriyama), Atsuko Ichinomiya (Mrs. Ariyama), Toshiko Higuchi (Wada's daughter), Jun Kondo (reporter), Yutaka Sada (wedding receptionist), Ikio Sawamura (Taxi driver), Hisashi Yokomori (reporter), Kunie Tanaka (hitman), Kyoro Sakurai (prosecutor), Ryoji Shimizu (worker), Soji Ubukata (employee), Shiro Tsuchiya (employee), Kyoko Ozawa (maid), Akemi Ueno (receptionist), Hiromi Mineoka (maid).
BW-151m. Letterboxed.

by David Sterritt
The Bad Sleep Well

The Bad Sleep Well

Akira Kurosawa directed The Bad Sleep Well, a modern-day crime drama starring Toshiro Mifune, in 1960. By then he had already made some of his most celebrated films, including the samurai pictures Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), and Throne of Blood (1957). His movies of the 1940s and 1950s all relied on outside financing, however, and as the debut project of his own company, Kurosawa Productions, The Bad Sleep Well marked a new phase in his career. "From this film on, I was responsible for everything," he recalled later. "Consequently, when I began, I wondered what kind of film to make. A film made only to make money did not appeal to me – one should not take advantage of an audience. Instead, I wanted to make a movie of some social significance." Kurosawa had done this before. Rashomon, the film that made him internationally famous, is a philosophical tale about the reliability of law and the relativity of truth; I Live in Fear (1955) deals with cold-war dread of nuclear catastrophe; The Lower Depths (1957) explores the exploitation and abuse of slum dwellers. Looking for a similarly important subject to launch his production unit, he decided to do "something about corruption." The reason for this choice, he told Japanese film authority Donald Richie, was that "it has always seemed to me that graft, bribery, etc., at the public level, is one of the worst crimes that there is." His target was evildoers who "hide behind the façade of some great company or corporation" to prevent others from knowing "how dreadful they really are, what awful things they do." The Bad Sleep Well starts with a wedding, depicted with a richness of detail that may remind today's viewers of The Godfather (1972), which also opens with marriage festivities where a criminal undercurrent runs below the surface of the occasion. The couple being wed are Keiko, the daughter of a government housing-corporation president named Iwabuchi, and Nishi, the president's secretary. Many guests have arrived to eat, drink, and toast the bride and groom, and a number of journalists are looking on from the sidelines, looking for a dramatic event to write about for their papers. Drama starts building when Keiko's brother suggests in a speech that Nishi may be using her to climb higher in the company's power structure. Things get even edgier when the wedding cake arrives, made in the form of a building where a vice president committed suicide during a bribery investigation five years earlier – and the cake has a flag hanging from the very window he jumped from. Then the police barge in, disrupting the celebration by arresting Wada, an executive of the firm, for embezzlement. The journalists have plenty to write about now. Uproar deepens into mystery when Wada runs off to kill himself but then reappears as a ghostly presence seen by Shirai, an employee who was involved in the scandal five years before. Bringing these threads together, it turns out that the newly married Nishi isn't Nishi after all. He's actually Furuya, the son of the executive who jumped from the building in the bribery case, and he has taken on a false identity to get revenge on Iwabuchi for driving his real father to suicide. He married Keiko so he could destroy the president from within his own family, and he prevented Wada's suicide so he could use the terrified man as a tool. In the film's last portion, "Nishi" kidnaps, confines, and tortures another company officer by starvation, demanding the location of tainted money and records that he can use to bring Iwabuchi and the corporation down. But he has come to love Keiko by this time, and she – loving him and also her endangered father – starts a series of events that lead to a violent finale. This may sound complicated, but at two and a half hours, Kurosawa has time to make things clear, and while he baffles us occasionally, it's usually as a way of building audience curiosity and suspense. In any case, the movie's messages are impossible to miss. The corporate world is portrayed as a many-layered morass of scandal, deceit, larceny, manipulation, murder, and revenge. Almost all the important characters are up to their eyeballs in the muck, serving as perpetrators, victims, and sometimes both in succession. Kurosawa is best known for his tales of samurai adventure in medieval Japan, and this twentieth-century melodrama can be interpreted as a warning that reactionary feudalism lingers on in Japan's unbending system of intermingled corporate and political structures. As critic Bosley Crowther wrote in his favorable New York Times review, Kurosawa's "bitter and cynical recounting of the failure of a right-thinking young man...to expose and thus get revenge on a group of old corporation robbers might almost be taken as a reflection of modern cynicism toward the old war lords in Japan." Seen this way, the pseudonymous Nishi becomes a latter-day version of the medieval swordsman, determined to avenge his family's honor but thwarted by his own capacity for love. The movie's style heightens the mood, with slightly overwrought performances – not surprisingly, the best comes from Mifune as the false Nishi – straining against the visual starkness of office walls, bombed-out landscapes, and dark, menacing streets. The music by Masaru Sato is less effective, lapsing into counterproductive cuteness at inappropriate moments. Many moviegoers find The Bad Sleep Well a lesser achievement than Kurosawa's 1963 thriller High and Low, which also involves kidnapping, greed, and corporate power. Not everyone agrees with this assessment, but Kurosawa himself wasn't quite satisfied with The Bad Sleep Well, feeling that the movie as a whole doesn't live up to the high quality of its early portions. Even when it was in production, he admitted, "I knew that it wasn't working out as I had planned and that this was because I was simply not telling and showing enough." In the final scene, for instance, we see Iwabuchi on the phone, and we're meant to infer that this is one of many calls he has made to some high government official even more corrupt than he is. The indirect way this is presented, Kurosawa realized later, is "not explicit enough...but in Japan if you go any further than that you are bound to run into serious trouble." He added that perhaps "the picture would have been better if I had been braver....Maybe I could have in a big country like America. Japan, however, cannot be this free and this makes me sad." The self-imposed limitations of Japanese cinema in the post-World War II era is another intriguing subject to think about when watching this flawed but steadily interesting drama. Director: Akira Kurosawa Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Akira Kurosawa Screenplay: Hideo Oguni, Eijiro Hisaita, Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto Cinematographer: Yuzuru Aizawa Art Direction: Yoshiro Muraki Music: Masaru Sato With: Toshiro Mifune (Nishi), Masayuki Mori (Iwabuchi), Kyoko Kagawa (Yoshiko Nishi), Tatsuya Mihashi (Tatsuo), Takashi Shimura (Moriyama), Ko Nishimura (Shirai), Takeshi Kato (Itakura), Kamatari Fujiwara (Wada), Chishu Ryu (Nonaka), Seiji Miyaguchi (Okakura), Koji Mitsui (reporter), Ken Mitsuda (Arimura), Nobuo Nakamura (legal adviser), Susumu Fujita (detective), Koji Nanbara (Horiuchi), Gen Shimizu (Miura), Yoshifumi Tajima (reporter), Sensho Matsumoto (Hatano), Yoshio Tsuchiya (secretary), Kyu Sazanka (Kaneko), Kin Sugai (Wada), Natsuko Kahara (Mrs. Furuya), Nobuko Tashiro (Mrs. Moriyama), Atsuko Ichinomiya (Mrs. Ariyama), Toshiko Higuchi (Wada's daughter), Jun Kondo (reporter), Yutaka Sada (wedding receptionist), Ikio Sawamura (Taxi driver), Hisashi Yokomori (reporter), Kunie Tanaka (hitman), Kyoro Sakurai (prosecutor), Ryoji Shimizu (worker), Soji Ubukata (employee), Shiro Tsuchiya (employee), Kyoko Ozawa (maid), Akemi Ueno (receptionist), Hiromi Mineoka (maid). BW-151m. Letterboxed. by David Sterritt

Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well on DVD


"I could never hate them enough!" exclaims Toshiro Mifune, in director Akira Kurosawa's underrated revenge drama, The Bad Sleep Well (1960), the newest Kurosawa work now available from the Criterion Collection.

Darkened by heavy shades of Hamlet, The Bad Sleep Well tells the story of executive secretary Koichi Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) who wields patience, paternal guilt, and persistent cunning in bringing a comeuppance to the men responsible for his estranged father's death. The young executive takes years, carefully nursing a plan to ensnare his enemies that is so intricate and deliberate, it would make the Count of Monte Cristo envious. But to catch them is not an easy task. The president of the corporation, Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori), is a study in the banality of slippery evil. So Nishi has his work cut out for him. He begins his plan by playing the kind of game that Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley would understand, that of taking over someone's identity completely (in this case, a willing accomplice played by Takeshi Kato) and ingratiating himself to a higher class level. This allows Nishi to marry Iwabuchi's daughter (Kyoko Kagawa), an event that is on its surface just one more step in getting closer to his enemies. Things become complicated though when Nishi actually starts to love his bride. Meanwhile, Iwabuchi and the four other men implicated in the nefarious dealings, Moriyama (Takashi Shimura), Shirai (Akira Nishimura), and Wada (Kamatari Fugiwara) are slowly squeezed in Nishi's trap.

As early as Drunken Angel (1948), critics referred to Kurosawa as a "journalistic director," meaning that he was a filmmaker interested only in topical issues that were currently affecting Japan. And with The Bad Sleep Well, Kurosawa continues this trend with a damning indictment of corporate malfeasance at the expense of the individual and Japanese traditions. While it may be a potent treatise on Japanese corporate culture of the late 1950s, it is also universal enough to stand as a prescient commentary on current instances of white-collar crimes. (Hello, Enron.)

But Kurosawa tackles the potentially dry subject with select tools from several different genres, subgenres, or styles. First and foremost, Kurosawa adapts American film noir for his tale of one man whose quest for revenge threatens to make him a worse human being than those who wronged him. Kurosawa employs deep focus compositions, high contrast key lighting, and carefully placed shadows for a tale with obvious noir heritage (a club often frequented by the corporate players is called Noir). But Kurosawa also uses elements of the newspaper drama that helpfully introduce us to the story in medias res. In the virtuoso prologue wedding, a scene that had to influence Francis Ford Coppola's own prologue wedding scene in The Godfather (1972), a mob of cynical, wisecracking newspaper reporters acts as a kind of Greek chorus by giving us introductions to each of the principle characters and their backgrounds (all except Nishi), plus a concise recap of the complicated legal troubles involving the four executives. The prologue is followed by a well orchestrated montage of indictments, arrests, interrogations, superimpositions and swirling newspaper headlines that is the mark of the police procedural drama, a subgenre that Kurosawa had already visited with Stray Dog in 1949.

Some critics have criticized The Bad Sleep Well for being marred by sluggish pacing. Entertainment Weekly, in a review of the Criterion release, said that the last half hour of the film felt like "an HR meeting that won't wrap up." But to artificially quicken the pace of the film would undermine the staid corporate environment in which Nishi must exact revenge on his enemies. It would also contradict the true conflict of the story, that of modern, money-making Japanese society coming to terms with traditional Japanese notions of honor, loyalty and shame. That being said, the pacing feels just fine, even if there are many scenes of backroom dialogue. It is Nishi's seething rage that transforms those neutral executive boardrooms into 20th century battlegrounds of a pin-stripped ronin.

Toshiro Mifune is so damn cool as Nishi that it's hard to believe that his very next film with Kurosawa would be Yojimbo (1961), a film that required Mifune to unleash his inner wolf. But his ferocity in The Bad Sleep Well is cut from a different cloth, that of the collision of two different sensibilities. The way he lurks in the background; stoic, contained, brimming with rage, has less to do with Hamlet than the conflict between Mifune's charisma and traditional Japanese reticence. Kurosawa often positions Mifune at the back of the frame, minimized and in shadow, but his position as the true author of the drama going on at the foreground is unquestioned. This was a departure for Mifune, as he usually played the brash, inexperienced character (see Stray Dog and Seven Samurai), instead of one who was so tightly contained and in control of his body. Notice how he whistles (likely an improvised trait) while keeping his unwilling participants in his little drama unnerved and on-edge. But Nishi isn't the only one given a misleading position in Kurosawa's canvas. It's Iwabuchi, Nishi's father-in-law and true nemesis, who is but a pawn himself in the events that have prompted Nishi's covert quest for revenge. And it's Iwabuchi who is often shot from behind or in profile. Kurosawa was a master at storytelling within a widescreen frame, as this film proves.

The DVD release is typical Criterion; a sparkling print, exceptional box artwork, and special features that include a 33-minute documentary on the making of The Bad Sleep Well and new essays by film critic Chuck Stephens and director Michael Almereyda. The fact that there is no audio commentary is a bit surprising, but it isn't really missed in the end.

For more information about The Bad Sleep Well, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Bad Sleep Well, go to TCM Shopping.

by Scott McGee

Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well on DVD

"I could never hate them enough!" exclaims Toshiro Mifune, in director Akira Kurosawa's underrated revenge drama, The Bad Sleep Well (1960), the newest Kurosawa work now available from the Criterion Collection. Darkened by heavy shades of Hamlet, The Bad Sleep Well tells the story of executive secretary Koichi Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) who wields patience, paternal guilt, and persistent cunning in bringing a comeuppance to the men responsible for his estranged father's death. The young executive takes years, carefully nursing a plan to ensnare his enemies that is so intricate and deliberate, it would make the Count of Monte Cristo envious. But to catch them is not an easy task. The president of the corporation, Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori), is a study in the banality of slippery evil. So Nishi has his work cut out for him. He begins his plan by playing the kind of game that Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley would understand, that of taking over someone's identity completely (in this case, a willing accomplice played by Takeshi Kato) and ingratiating himself to a higher class level. This allows Nishi to marry Iwabuchi's daughter (Kyoko Kagawa), an event that is on its surface just one more step in getting closer to his enemies. Things become complicated though when Nishi actually starts to love his bride. Meanwhile, Iwabuchi and the four other men implicated in the nefarious dealings, Moriyama (Takashi Shimura), Shirai (Akira Nishimura), and Wada (Kamatari Fugiwara) are slowly squeezed in Nishi's trap. As early as Drunken Angel (1948), critics referred to Kurosawa as a "journalistic director," meaning that he was a filmmaker interested only in topical issues that were currently affecting Japan. And with The Bad Sleep Well, Kurosawa continues this trend with a damning indictment of corporate malfeasance at the expense of the individual and Japanese traditions. While it may be a potent treatise on Japanese corporate culture of the late 1950s, it is also universal enough to stand as a prescient commentary on current instances of white-collar crimes. (Hello, Enron.) But Kurosawa tackles the potentially dry subject with select tools from several different genres, subgenres, or styles. First and foremost, Kurosawa adapts American film noir for his tale of one man whose quest for revenge threatens to make him a worse human being than those who wronged him. Kurosawa employs deep focus compositions, high contrast key lighting, and carefully placed shadows for a tale with obvious noir heritage (a club often frequented by the corporate players is called Noir). But Kurosawa also uses elements of the newspaper drama that helpfully introduce us to the story in medias res. In the virtuoso prologue wedding, a scene that had to influence Francis Ford Coppola's own prologue wedding scene in The Godfather (1972), a mob of cynical, wisecracking newspaper reporters acts as a kind of Greek chorus by giving us introductions to each of the principle characters and their backgrounds (all except Nishi), plus a concise recap of the complicated legal troubles involving the four executives. The prologue is followed by a well orchestrated montage of indictments, arrests, interrogations, superimpositions and swirling newspaper headlines that is the mark of the police procedural drama, a subgenre that Kurosawa had already visited with Stray Dog in 1949. Some critics have criticized The Bad Sleep Well for being marred by sluggish pacing. Entertainment Weekly, in a review of the Criterion release, said that the last half hour of the film felt like "an HR meeting that won't wrap up." But to artificially quicken the pace of the film would undermine the staid corporate environment in which Nishi must exact revenge on his enemies. It would also contradict the true conflict of the story, that of modern, money-making Japanese society coming to terms with traditional Japanese notions of honor, loyalty and shame. That being said, the pacing feels just fine, even if there are many scenes of backroom dialogue. It is Nishi's seething rage that transforms those neutral executive boardrooms into 20th century battlegrounds of a pin-stripped ronin. Toshiro Mifune is so damn cool as Nishi that it's hard to believe that his very next film with Kurosawa would be Yojimbo (1961), a film that required Mifune to unleash his inner wolf. But his ferocity in The Bad Sleep Well is cut from a different cloth, that of the collision of two different sensibilities. The way he lurks in the background; stoic, contained, brimming with rage, has less to do with Hamlet than the conflict between Mifune's charisma and traditional Japanese reticence. Kurosawa often positions Mifune at the back of the frame, minimized and in shadow, but his position as the true author of the drama going on at the foreground is unquestioned. This was a departure for Mifune, as he usually played the brash, inexperienced character (see Stray Dog and Seven Samurai), instead of one who was so tightly contained and in control of his body. Notice how he whistles (likely an improvised trait) while keeping his unwilling participants in his little drama unnerved and on-edge. But Nishi isn't the only one given a misleading position in Kurosawa's canvas. It's Iwabuchi, Nishi's father-in-law and true nemesis, who is but a pawn himself in the events that have prompted Nishi's covert quest for revenge. And it's Iwabuchi who is often shot from behind or in profile. Kurosawa was a master at storytelling within a widescreen frame, as this film proves. The DVD release is typical Criterion; a sparkling print, exceptional box artwork, and special features that include a 33-minute documentary on the making of The Bad Sleep Well and new essays by film critic Chuck Stephens and director Michael Almereyda. The fact that there is no audio commentary is a bit surprising, but it isn't really missed in the end. For more information about The Bad Sleep Well, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Bad Sleep Well, go to TCM Shopping. by Scott McGee

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Released in Japan in September 1960 as Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru; running time: 151 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video August 31, 1988

Released in United States September 6, 1990

Released in United States Winter January 22, 1963

Shown at Los Angeles Festival (Modern Masters of Japanese Cinema) September 6, 1990.

Tohoscope

Released in United States Winter January 22, 1963

Released in United States on Video August 31, 1988

Released in United States September 6, 1990 (Shown at Los Angeles Festival (Modern Masters of Japanese Cinema) September 6, 1990.)