Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997)
Toshiro Mifune was born as a first son to a trading merchant and photo studio manager Tokuzo Mifune in Tsingtao, China. His family moved to Dalian, China, and his father set up "Star Photo Studio". As a Japanese citizen he was drafted in 1940 passed for Aerial Photography (Ko-type) unit, and joined the seventh flying squad of the Manchuria Imperial Army Airforce. In the flying squad, since he had experience and knowledge of a photograph, he was assigned to the photograph department and took charge of the aerial photographs. He was transferred to the eighth flying squad's educational department of Manchuria Imperial Army Airforce. Then, since they draw off troops, he moved to Yokaichi, Shiga. He faced the end of the war at Kamikaze base in Kumanosho, Kumamoto, where he had transferred to. He repatriated to Japan in 1946.
In 1947 he visted his senior friend Toshiharu Ohyama who worked for Toho Movie studio's photography division, to call on him for photographer's assistant job. His resume was received as one for the first audition in the studio's "New Face" talent hunt "by some mistake." He attracted the movie director Kajiro Yamamoto's attention and passed the audition as a fill-in actor. Mifune was still waiting for the opening of filming division rather than being an actor. Movie director Senkichi Taniguchi persuaded him to act in his film Ginrei no hate (Snow Trail, also known as To the End of the Silver Mountains, 1947) and Mifune made his debut. Snow Trail's original script was written by Akira Kurosawa for his friend, the young director Senkichi Taniguchi. Both Kurosawa and Taniguchi had worked as assistants to Kajiro Yamamoto, and Yamamoto continued to serve as mentor to the two of them, as well as to the powerful new actor whose audition he had overseen.
While Mifune was giving his audition on Toho Studios, Akira Kurosawa was been working on an adjoining set. Kurosawa was originally going to skip the event, but showed up when an actress he knew told him of one actor who seemed especially promising. Kurosawa later wrote that he entered the audition to see "a young man reeling around the room in a violent frenzy... it was as frightening as watching a wounded beast trying to break loose. I was transfixed." When an exhausted Mifune finished his scene, he sat down and gave the judges an ominous stare. He promptly lost the competition. Kurosawa, however, had found his muse. "I am a person rarely impressed by actors," he later said. "But in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed."
Remembering their earliest work together, Kurosawa later wrote of Mifune in his autobiography:
Mifune had a kind of talent I had never encountered before in the Japanese film world. It was, above all, the speed with which he expressed himself that was astounding. The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three. The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all his quickness, he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities.
Between 1948 and 1965, Kurosawa cast Toshiro Mifune in leading roles in all but one of the seventeen films he made in that period. Beginning with Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) in 1948, and continuing through such masterpieces as Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954), I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (Ikimono no kiroku, 1955), Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jo, 1957), The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemoru, 1960), Yojimbo (1961), High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku, 1963), and Red Beard (Akahige, 1964), Kurosawa tailored one role after another to the special strengths of his extraordinary star actor. And all the while, Mifune's considerable talents grew and deepened.
Mifune later said: "That the Japanese film is known at all in the West is due mainly to the pictures of Akira Kurosawa. That I am known both here and abroad is also mainly due to him. He taught me practically everything I know, and it was he who first introduced me to myself as an actor. Kurosawa has this quality, this ability to bring things out of you that you never knew were there. It is enormously difficult work, but each picture with him is a revelation. When you see his films, you find them full realizations of ideas, of emotions, of a philosophy which surprises with its strength, even shocks with its power. You had not expected to be so moved, to find within your own self this depth of understanding."
Toshiro Mifune's first film, Snow Trail (Ginrei no hate, 1947), was an action picture - a sort of Japanese Treasure of the Sierra Madre - about three bank robbers who escape into the Japan Alps. The film was shot largely on location and involved hazardous set-ups along mountain precipices. Mifune modestly claims to have been given the starring role only because he was willing to undertake the most dangerous stunts himself, thereby saving the studio the cost of a stand-in. His second film was a bit part in Yamamoto's dark comedy of postwar Japan, These Foolish Times (Shin baka jidai, 1947).
The Kurosawa-Mifune collaboration began in 1948 with Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi). Akira Kurosawa was by then already recognized as a director of considerable promise, with six major films to his name. And yet, it was with Drunken Angel that he claims to have first found his real voice and to have placed his own unique stamp on a film for the first time. Kurosawa's authority and control were were already firmly established as he set out to make a movie about the humanism of a doctor struggling against poverty and disease in a Tokyo slum. Cast as the doctor was the veteran actor Takashi Shimura, and Mifune had the rather small role of a young hoodlum whom Shimura tries to cure. But just as he had taken his audition by storm, Mifune overwhelmed Kurosawa's plans for Drunken Angel. As Kurosawa remembers it:
With the appearance of Toshiro Mifune as the gangster, this was the first picture in which my original idea was totally turned upside down. Shimura's portrayal of the doctor was excellent, but I just couldn't restrain the overpowering force of Mifune's performance. Naturally, as the title indicates, the doctor was supposed to be the film's hero. But what a shame it would have been to stifle Mifune's vitality. He reacts so swiftly to direction, you know: if I say one thing to him, he understands ten. I decided to turn him loose.
As filming progressed, Kurosawa and his scriptwriters were forced to rewrite more and more, making Mifune's character central to the story. Drunken Angel would not be the last film that Mifune would steal. From that time on he only rarely missed playing in Kurosawa’s films. The pairing is among the most famous in cinema, like that of John Ford and John Wayne and Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Under Kurosawa’s direction, Mifune gradually became Japan’s premier film actor.
Kurosawa saw to it that Mifune got a different sort of role for his next picture - a dedicated doctor part of his own in The Quiet Duel (Shizukanaru kettô , 1949) - but Mifune's vigorous image as a man of impudence and barely suppressed rage was one that stuck with him right from the audition room. Though he played a number of quiet, refined, gentlemanly sorts through the eary 50's, he made his mark in roles that tapped his wild, exuberant force: Stray Dog (Nora inu, 1949), as a cop; Rashomon (1950), as the snarling bandit; Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954), as Kikuchiyo, the tag-along seventh samurai (which remained his favorite role); the title role in Miyamoto Musashi (1954, known in America as Samurai); the untamed Matsu in The Rikshaw Man (Muhomatsu no issho, 1958); and his own version of Cyrano de Bergerac in Samurai Saga (Aru kengo no shogai, 1959).
Toshiro Mifune also came to epitomize a certain type of actor with deep roots in classical Japanese performance, the tateyaku, the heroic leading man who had stepped onto the stage directly from the pages of epic military romances and samurai mythology. Critic Tadao Sato has written extensively about the tateyaku personality in films and its derivation from the Kabuki stage. Through his descriptions of the Japanese manly ideal as represented by the tateyaku - strongwilled, brave, ascetic, and self-sacrificing - the reader envisions Toshiro Mifune.
In contrast was the nimaime-type, the softer, gentler romantic heroes of domestic love-dramas. Mifune stands firmly in the tateyaku camp, and as a result has played almost no love scenes in his long career. Still, he has managed to invest the tateyaku stereotype with far greater complexity and depth of feeling than any of its more rigid exponents. Or, as Donald Richie puts it, "Mifune always looks as though he would rather sleep with something other than his sword."
In the Kurosawa films of the middle 1950s, Mifune's performances and the scripts that Kurosawa wrote for him, took on a rather Shakespearean weight. As the brash, impulsive Kikuchiyo in Seven Samurai, Mifune never lets the viewer forget the character's tragic origins: not merely an ambitious samurai, he's a peasant youth, orphaned in infancy and now posing as a samurai even though he hates that class' domineering power. Akira Kurosawa said this of Toshiro Mifune’s acting:
Many contemporary actors unfortunately do not bother too much with creative process. They acquired several acting procedures and they then use them whether it is suitable or not. I often remember Mifune. When we worked together on the film Shichinin no samurai [Seven Samurai] we shot the scene in which he explains to the samurais the disgrace of the peasants, and he cries. ‘My hero is a peasant, and therefore he must cry like a peasant,’ Mifune said to me. I was totally fascinated when he performed for me in front of the camera. In his acting performances there was always such remarkable sincerity and truth.
As the aged patriarch of I Live in Fear (Mifune at 35 playing a man twice his age), he projects a mind disintegrating with fear of impending nuclear destruction. In Throne of Blood, Kurosawa's brilliant transposition of Macbeth to medieval Japan, Mifune combines the Shakespearean traditions with those of the Japanese military sagas and the Noh stage. In The Lower Depths (Kurosawa's adaptation of Gorky's play of the same name), Mifune weaves together raffish comedy, bombastic swagger, and romantic yearnings in a performance that is unforgettable as much for its subtlety as for its vigor. Finally, in The Bad Sleep Well, and High and Low, Mifune plays modern roles of great psychological complexity: men struggling with conscience and moral outrage, their furious will to action restrained by fear or guilt.
As he matured, Mifune refined his flair for comedy and gave to certain roles a bemused wisdom, seeming to smile at the memory of the angry young man he once had been. These sardonic characters, such as the vagrant protagonists of Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962), are also characteristic of another of his role types, the "good bad guy." As anti-heroes, these men may be thieves or rogues, as in Saga of the Vagabonds (Sengoku gunto-den, 1959), The Gambling Samurai (Kunisada Chûji, 1960), or Ambush (Machibuse, 1970), but they know what is right and just. In other films - Red Beard (Akahige, 1964), Samurai Rebellion (Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu, 1967), Band of Assassins (Shinsengumi, 1969) - his roles are men obsessed with a cause. Social misfits some of them, or men resisting the tide of history or politics, all were staunch samurai, singlemindedly devoting their energy to what they believed to be right.
An affinity to men of might and right has led Mifune naturally to roles as military men, soldiers not only from Japan's historical past but of his own era as well. The most prominent of these is Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the much revered Japanese naval hero, whom Mifune has portrayed in several films, including Storm Over the Pacific (Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi, 1960), Midway (1976), and Admiral Yamamoto (Yamamoto Isoroku, 1968). Yet Mifune's own military experience was a far cry from the elite career of the great Japanese admiral. In 1940, fresh out of school in Manchuria, he joined the Imperial Army Airforce:
There I was, a naive young man just turned twenty, the age when everyone went into the army, called up for active duty with one of those formal conscription notices inscribed on red paper. I left home and family reluctantly, not knowing if I would ever see my parents again and anxious at the thought of going off to kill people. Amid the stifling stench of leather, sweat, grease, and that pungent odor peculiar to men, I and the other bewildered young recruits were stirred up to blood lust. What a nightmare! Shuffled back and forth, first north then south, I lived that desperate soldier's life for six years. These big rough laborer's hands of mine are my unwanted souvenirs of that time.
Mifune's personal military experience, in other words, was hardly heroic. Rather than the great warlords or brilliant officers he portrayed in some of his films, his own memories are closer to the roles he played in certain others: Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, 1959), about a band of outlaw soldiers fed up with the army; Fort Graveyard (Chi to suna, 1965), in which he played a touch sergeant; Hell in the Pacific (1968), where he is a soldier stranded on a desert island; or even his role in Seven Samurai, as the peasant who would be a soldier.
Mifune's experience of the war and his struggle to find a new life afterward have marked many of his performances, his "ordinary man" roles. The desperate young cop in Stray Dog (Nora inu, 1949), the kindly laborer in Downtown (Shitamachi, 1957), the impulsive Matsu in The Rickshaw Man (Muhomatsu no issho, 1958), the stevedore foreman in Man Against Man (Otoko tai otoko, 1960), and Tetsu the fisherman in Jakoman and Tetsu (Jakoman to Tetsu, 1949).
Internationally, Toshiro Mifune has had two careers. First, of course, is the reputation he has built for himself around the world in Japanese films. Second are his performances in non-Japanese films. The world was first alerted to the arrival of this charismatic new Japanese film star when Rashomon won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1953 and took the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film the following year. Mifune's performance as the wild bandit Tajomaru stunned audiences and critics all over the world, and it was followed soon after by equally powerful appearances in a stream of Kurosawa films that found enthusiastic international audiences and garnered one film award after another. Mifune's films for other Japanese directors - Kenji Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu (Saikaku ichidai onna, 1952), Hiroshi Inagaki's Miyamoto Musashi (Samurai, 1954) and The Rickshaw Man (Muhomatsu no issho, 1958) - also were well received abroad and strengthened Mifune's standing as Japan's preeminent film star. In the 1960s, Mifune's compelling samurai roles in Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Sanjuro, as well as performances featuring brilliant swordplay in other samurai films by Inagaki and Kihachi Okamoto, won him a passionate following among student audiences on college campuses all across America. Yojimbo and Red Beard also won him the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival, and the distinction of being the only actor to have received that prestigious award twice.
Mifune's career in international films began with a reprise, in a sense, of the inebriated routine he performed at his first Toho audition in 1946. The Mexican producer/director Ismael Rodriguez cast him as the drunken Indian peasant in Ánimas Trujano (El hombre importante) in 1962. Not knowing Spanish, Mifune had a Mexican actor record his dialogue on tape. He then memorized his lines from listening to the tape, and in shooting the film spoke his entire part in Spanish. The performance is a tour de force.
His first American picture, Grand Prix, made for John Frankenheimer in 1968, provided Mifune with a very different sort of role, that of a wealthy Japanese industrialist who sponsors an auto racing team. The fee Mifune reportedly received was appropriate to the well-heeled character he played and more than double what he'd ever earned for a role in Japan. Since Grand Prix, he has gone on to appear in nine more American and European films. Mifune has acquitted himself with real distinction in a number of his international films. In Hell in the Pacific, directed by John Boorman, Mifune and co-star Lee Marvin generate powerful dramatic tension as two enemy castaways on a deserted Pacific island. In Red Sun (Soleil rouge), made for Terence Young in 1971, he maintains genuine dignity and authority in the potentially ludicrous circumstances of a samurai-official in the wild West of the 1860s. In Steven Spielberg's 1941, Mifune displayed a talent for parody as an inept submarine captain sent to bombard the California coast. Here he was sending up the soldierly types like Admiral Yamamoto he had so often played, and had no difficulty holding his own against the brilliant American comic John Belushi (who had made something of a career out of his own parodies of Mifune). Finally, the performance in which all of America saw Mifune was that of Toranaga, the title role of James Clavell's Shogun, which when broadcast as a twelve-hour series in 1980 attracted one of the largest television audiences in history.
Toshiro Mifune's career has not been confined to performing. In 1963, he formed his own production company and that year directed his first (and last) film, The Legacy of the 500,000 (Gojuman-nin no isan). He also starred in it as a war veteran abducted by a fortune hunter to lead him to a cache of gold abandoned by Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. The film is not one that Mifune remembers fondly. He has continued to produce films, however, and has appeared in a dozen of his own productions, most notably Samurai Rebellion, which was named Best Film of 1967 in Japan and had a highly successful international run. Mifune Productions has also contributed to some of the international films he has appeared in: for Hell in the Pacific Mifune brought in a Japanese screenwriter, art director, and technical crew; his company also arranged many of the requirements for shooting The Challenge in Japan in 1982.
One of Mifune's fellow performers, one of the 32 women chosen during the new faces contest, was Sachiko Yoshimine. Eight years Mifune's junior, she came from a respected Tokyo family. They fell in love and Mifune soon proposed marriage. Yoshimine's parents were strongly opposed to the union. Mifune was doubly an outsider, being a non-Buddhist as well as a native Manchurian. His choice of profession also made him suspect, as actors were generally assumed to be irresponsible and financially incapable of supporting a family.
Director Senkichi Taniguchi, with the help of Akira Kurosawa, convinced the Yoshimine family to allow the marriage. It took place in February 1950. In November of the same year, their first son, Shiro was born. In 1955, they had a second son, Takeshi. Mifune's daughter Mika was born to his mistress, actress Mika Kitagawa, in 1982.
In 1992, Mifune began suffering from a serious unknown health problem. It has been variously suggested that he destroyed his health with overwork, suffered a heart attack, or experienced a stroke. For whatever reason, he abruptly retreated from public life and remained largely confined to his home, cared for by his wife Sachiko. When she succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1995, Mifune's physical and mental state began to decline rapidly.In 1997, he died in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan, of multiple organ failure at the age of 77.
- Fukai kawa (1995) ... aka Deep River
- Picture Bride (1994)
- Shadow of the Wolf (1992)
- Kabuto (1991) ... aka Shogun Warrior
- Sutoroberi rodo (1991) ... aka Strawberry Road
- Haru kuru oni (1989) ... aka Demons in Spring
- Sen no Rikyu (1989) ... aka Death of a Tea Master
- CF gâru (1989) ... aka CF Girl
- Taketori monogatari (1987) ... aka The Tale of Taketori
- Otoko wa tsurai yo: Shiretoko bojô (1987) ... aka It's Tough to Be a Man: Shiretako Longing
- Sicilian Connection (1987)
- Genkai tsurezure-bushi (1986) ... aka Song of Genkai Tsurezure
- Seijo densetsu (1985) ... aka Legend of the Holy Woman
- Natsu no deai (1984)
- Umitsubame Jyo no kiseki (1984) ... aka The Miracle of Joe Petrel
- Moetechiru hono no kenshi Okita Sohji (1984) ... aka Soshi Okita, Burning Corpse of a Sword Master
- Sanga moyu (1984) ... aka The Burning Mountain River
- Makyo sessho-tani no himitsu (1983)
- Suronin makaritoru dai gobu namida ni kieru mikka gokuraku (1983) ... aka The Ronin's Path, Vol. V
- Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba (1983) ... aka Battle Anthem
- Suronin makaritoru dai yonbu sarumo jigoku nokorumo jigoku (1983)
- Jinsei gekijo (1983) ... aka Theatre of Life
- Yusha ha katarazu (1983) ... aka The Brave Man Says Little
- Suronin makyosashodani no himitsu (1983) ... aka Ronin: Secret of the Mysterious Valley
- Seiha (1982) ... aka Conquest
- Suronin makaritoru dai sanbu chikemuri no yado (1982)
- Shingo juban shobu dai sanbu ai ni iki-ken ni ikiru seishun (1982)
- The Challenge (1982)
- Suronin makaritoru dai nibu akatsuki no shito (1982)
- Shingo juban shobu dai nibu (1982) ... aka The Ten Battles of Shingo, Part II
- Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi (1982) ... aka The Happy Yellow Handkerchief
- The Bushido Blade (1981)
- Suronin makaritoru (1981)... aka The Ronin's Path
- Kyukei no koya (1981) ... aka The Crescent-Shaped Wilderness
- Inchon (1981)
- Shingo juban shobu dai ichibu (1981) ... aka The Ten Battles of Shingo, Part I
- Sekigahara (1981)
- Musumeyo! Ai to namida no tsubasa de tobe (1981) ... aka My Daughter! Fly on the Wings of Love and Tears
- Bungo torimonocho (1981) ... aka Bungo's Detective Notes
- Shogun (1980)
- 203 kochi (1980) ... aka 203 Plateaus
- 1941 (1979)
- Onmitsu dôshin: Ôedo sôsamô (1979) ... aka Secret Detective Investigation: Net in Big Edo
- Kindaichi Kosuke no boken (1979) ... aka The Adventures of Kosuke Kindaichi
- Winter Kills (1979)
- Kakekomibiru nanagoshitsu (1979) ... aka Hideout in Suite 7
- Tono Eijirô no Mito Kômon (1978) ... aka Samurai Adviser
- Nihon no don: kanketsuhen (1978) ... aka Japanese Don: Conclusion
- Ako-Jo danzetsu (1978) ... aka Last of the Ako Clan
- Ogin-sama (1978) ... aka Lady Ogin
- Inubue (1978) ... aka Dog Flute
- Yagyû ichizoku no inbô (1978) ... aka Intrigue of the Yagyu Clan
- Edo no taka (1978) ... aka An Eagle in Edo
- Nippon no don: Yabohen (1977) ... aka Japanese Godfather: Ambition
- Ningen no shômei (1977) ... aka Proof of the Man
- Otoko no shiken (1977)
- Muhogai no suronin (1977) ... aka Ronin in a Lawless Town
- Kakushimetsuke sanjo (1977) ... aka The Spy Appears
- Midway (1976)
- Ken to kaze to komoriuta (1976) ... aka The Sword, the Wind, and the Lullaby
- Paper Tiger (1975)
- Koya no yojimbo (1973) ... aka Yojimbo of the Wilderness
- Koya no so ronin (1972)... aka Ronin of the Wilderness
- Soleil rouge (1971)
- Dai Chûshingura (1971) ... aka Epic Chushingura
- Gekido no showashi 'Gunbatsu' (1970) ... aka The Militarists
- Aru heishi no kake (1970) ... aka One Soldier's Gamble
- Machibuse (1970) ... aka The Ambush: Incident at Blood Pass
- Bakumatsu (1970) ... aka The Ambitious
- Zatôichi to Yôjinbô (1970) ... aka Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
- Shinsengumi (1969) ... aka Band of Assassins
- Akage (1969) ... aka Red Hair
- Nihonkai daikaisen (1969)... aka Battle of the Japan Sea
- Eiko e no 5,000 kiro (1969) ... aka 5,000 Kilometers to Glory
- Furin kazan (1969) ... aka Samurai Banners
- Hell in the Pacific (1968)
- Gion matsuri (1968) ... aka Festival of Gion
- Rengo kantai shirei chôkan: Yamamoto Isoroku (1968) ... aka Admiral Yamamoto
- Chikadô no taiyô made (1968) ... aka The Sands of Kurobe
- Gonin no nobushi (1968)
- Nihon no ichiban nagai hi (1967) ... aka Japan's Longest Day
- Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu (1967) ... aka Samurai Rebellion
- Grand Prix (1966)
- Doto ichiman kairi (1966) ... aka 10,000 Miles of Stormy Seas
- Kiganjô no bôken (1966) ... aka Adventure in Kigan Castle
- Dai-bosatsu tôge (1966) ... aka Daibosatsu Pass
- Abare Goemon (1966) ... ... aka Wild Goemon
- Chi to suna (1965) ... aka Fort Graveyard
- Taiheiyo kiseki no sakusen: Kisuka (1965) ... aka Miraculous Military Operation in the Pacific Ocean, Kiska
- Sugata Sanshiro (1965) ... aka Judo Saga
- Akahige (1965) ... aka Red Beard
- Samurai (1965) ... aka Samurai Assassin
- Shikonmado - Dai tatsumaki (1964) ... aka Shikonmado: Big Tornado
- Dai tozoku (1963) ... aka The Adventures of Sinbad
- Gojuman-nin no isan (1963) ... aka Legacy of the 500,000
- Tengoku to jigoku (1963) ... aka High and Low
- Taiheiyo no tsubasa (1963) ... aka Wings Over the Pacific
- Chushingura - Hana no maki yuki no maki (1962)... aka The Loyal 47 Ronin
- Zoku shachô yôkôki (1962) ... aka 3 Gentlemen from Tokyo
- Doburoku no Tatsu (1962) ... aka Home-Brewed Tatsu
- Ánimas Trujano (El hombre importante) (1962) ... aka The Important Man
- Tsubaki Sanjûrô (1962) ... aka Sanjuro
- Gen to fudômyô-ô (1961) ... aka Gen and Prince Fudomyo
- Yojimbo (1961) ... aka The Bodyguard
- Zoku sararîman Chushingura (1961) ... aka Salary Man Chushingura Sequel
- Osaka jo monogatari (1961) ... aka Daredevil in the Castle
- Sararîman Chûshingura (1960) ... aka Salary Man Chushingura
- Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (1960) ... aka The Bad Sleep Well
- Otoko tai otoko (1960) ... aka Man Against Man
- Hawai Middouei daikaikusen: Taiheiyo no arashi (1960) ... aka Hawaii-Midway Battle of the Sea and Sky: Storm in the Pacific Ocean
- Kunisada Chuji (1960) ... aka The Gambling Samurai
- Ankokugai no taiketsu (1960) ... aka The Last Gunfight
- Nippon tanjo (1959)... aka Age of the Gods
- Dokuritsu gurentai (1959) ... aka Independent Gangsters
- Sengoku gunto-den (1959)... aka Saga of the Vagabonds
- Aru kengo no shogai (1959) ... aka Samurai Saga
- Ankokugai no kaoyaku (1959) ... aka Boss of the Underworld
- Kakushi-toride no san-akunin (1958) ... aka The Hidden Fortress
- Jinsei gekijô - Seishun hen (1958) ... aka Theater of Life
- Kekkon no subete (1958) ... aka All About Marriage
- Yajikita dochu sugoroku (1958) ... aka The Happy Pilgrimage
- Muhomatsu no issho (1958) ... aka The Rickshaw Man
- Tokyo no kyujitsu (1958) ... aka Tokyo Holiday
- Yagyu bugeicho - Ninjitsu (1958) ... aka Secret Scrolls, Part II
- Shitamachi (1957) ... aka Downtown
- Donzoko (1957) ... aka The Lower Depths
- Kiken na eiyu (1957) ... aka A Dangerous Hero
- Yagyu bugeicho (1957) ... aka Secret Scrolls
- Kono futari ni sachi are (1957) ... aka Be Happy, These Two Lovers
- Arashi no naka no otoko (1957) ... aka Man in the Storm
- Kumonosu jô (1957) ... aka Throne of Blood
- Shujinsen (1956) ... aka Prison Ship
- Narazu-mono (1956) ... aka Blackguard
- Tsuma no kokoro (1956) ... aka A Wife's Heart
- Aijô no kessan (1956) ... aka Settlement of Love
- Ankokugai (1956)... aka The Underworld
- Kuro-obi sangokushi (1956) ... aka Black Belt Sangokushi
- Miyamoto Musashi kanketsuhen: kettô Ganryûjima (1956) ... aka Bushido
- Ikimono no kiroku (1955) ... aka I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being
- Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô (1955) ... aka Samurai (Part II)
- Otoko arite (1955) ... aka No Time for Tears
- Zoku tenka taihei (1955) ... aka All Is Well, Part 2
- Tenka taihei (1955) ... aka All Is Well
- Dansei No. 1 (1955) ... aka No. 1 Man
- Mitsuyu-sen (1954) ... aka Smuggling Ship
- Shiosai (1954) ... aka The Sound of Surf
- Miyamoto Musashi (1954) ... aka Samurai
- Shichinin no samurai (1954) ... aka Seven Samurai
- Taiheiyo no washi (1953) ... aka Eagle of the Pacific
- Himawari musume (1953) ... aka Love in a Teacup
- Hoyo (1953) ... aka The Last Embrace
- Fukeyo haru kaze (1953) ... aka Blow! Spring Wind
- Minato e kita otoko (1952) ... aka The Man Who Came to Sea
- Gekiryu (1952) ... aka Swift Current
- Tokyo no koibito (1952) ... aka Tokyo Sweetheart
- Sengoku burai (1952) ... aka Sword for Hire
- Kin no tamago: Golden girl (1952)
- Saikaku ichidai onna (1952) ... aka The Life of Oharu
- Muteki (1952) ... aka Foghorn
- Araki Mataemon: Kettô kagiya no tsuji (1952) ... aka Vendetta of a Samurai
- Onnagokoro dare ka shiru (1951) ... aka Who Knows a Woman's Heart?
- Bakurô ichidai (1951) ... aka The Life of a Horsetrader
- Kanketsu Sasaki Kojirô: Ganryû-jima kettô (1951) ... aka Conclusion of Kojiro Sasaki: Duel on Ganryu Island
- Kaizoku-sen (1951) ... aka Pirate Ship
- Hakuchi (1951) ... aka The Idiot
- Aika (1951) ... aka Elegy
- Ai to nikushimi no kanata e (1951) ... aka Beyond Love and Hate
- Sengoha obake taikai (1951) ... aka Meeting of the Ghost of Apres-Guerre
- Rashômon (1950)
- Konyaku yubiwa (1950) ... aka An Engagement Ring
- Shubun (1950) ... aka Scandal
- Ishinaka sensei gyojoki (1950) ... aka Conduct Report on Professor Ishinaka
- Datsugoku (1950) ... aka Escape from Prison
- Nora inu (1949) ... aka Stray Dog
- Jakoman to Tetsu (1949) ... aka Jakoman and Tetsu
- Shizukanaru ketto (1949) ... aka A Silent Duel
- Yoidore tenshi (1948) ... aka Drunken Angel
- Shin baka jidai [Go] (1947) ... aka The New Age of Fools
- Shin baka jidai [Zen] (1947) ... aka The New Age of Fools
- Ginrei no hate (1947) ... aka Snow Trail