Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog is one of the first modern procedurals and buddy cop films. Pretty good for a film that came out in 1949, but Kurosawa was always at the forefront of cinematic achievements. Kurosawa is without a doubt one of the great filmmakers, strong performances from his actors, beautiful shots, and lots of intensity. The man set the bar pretty damn high for other filmmakers and while I haven’t come close to seeing all his movies, what I have seen has been good to fucking awesome. Stray Dog is a fave of mine and the only film of his I’ve seen that’s not a samurai picture.
Stray Dog follows a rookie cop played by the great Toshiro Mifune who has his gun pick pocketed on a trolley and goes to great lengths to recover it, in fear it’ll be used in a crime. With help he tracks down the pick pocket who clues him into a stolen gun racket but after going undercover and catching one of the people involved he hits a dead end. After his gun gets connected to a burglary he’s assigned to a new partner played by Takashi Shimura. A more seasoned cop, he brings a more calm and thoughtful approach. They find the man behind the gun racket and from there search the crook who has Mifune’s gun.
The film, it has this style to it that I can not really describe. Its 1949, post war Japan and the people, the look, very gritty. The heat plays a factor in the story and is a constant in the film. I showed it with my friend and he had two points, “Watching them sweat in this weather is making me hot” and “The heat is very much a part of this story.” There is so many shots of people sweating, fanning themselves, trying to keep cool. Its rare to see a film really get the weather across so strongly. The film’s structure, pacing, performances makes Stray Dog a personal fave.
I can’t post the player from TCM with a clip so I’ll link it HERE.