Our Kurosawa Sans Samurai series continues with one of the master’s finest films noir: Drunken Angel!
Angel was the first of sixteen collaborations between Kurosawa and his pair of muses: Takashi Shimura and the famous Toshiro Mifune. Primarily this is the story of the good doctor Sanada (Shimura), the “drunken angel” in question, who treats his long-suffering patients by a dismal swamp in between getting hammered at night. Along comes Mifune’s crazy gangster Matsunaga, who is suffering from tuberculosis which is exacerbated by his wild living. Matsunaga tries to bully Sanada into help, and eventually the two men form an uneasy friendship. Kurosawa being Kurosawa, nothing ends with smiles and bluebirds, though. This is noir at its finest.
One of the hallmarks of noir is its examination of life in a post-World War II world, and that is in full view here. The United States occupying forces actually censored movies (and books, etc.) that criticized America, and yet Kurosawa manages to slip quite a few by, including and especially the gangsters western clothing and musical tastes.
Drunken Angel screens Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday at 5:00 and 7:00. Purchase tickets here.