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February 02, 2010


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It's like reducing "Rhapsody in Blue" to three bars in a commercial for United Airlines. I'd rather ponder the marvelous fact that Takashi Shimura, the hero of "Ikiru," plays the leader of the Samurai in "The Seven Samurai": no two roles could be more different.

And 19 other roles, too, all unique, fascinating characters! Although the above-mentioned two roles are his best known -- a few others I think worth mentioning are:

1) 'Poison Strawberry' -- the cop who beats up poor Yukie on December 8, 1941. (No Regrets)
2) Dr. Sanada (Drunken Angel)
3) Dr. Fujisaki (Quiet Duel)
4) Det. Sato (Stray Dog)
5) Lawyer Hiruta (Scandal)
6) Woodcutter (Rashômon)
7) Dr. Harada (I Live in Fear)
8) Moriyama (Bad Sleep Well) -- perhaps his last great Kurosawa role. After that, the parts are mostly minor ones...

I find it really interesting to see how Shimura dealt with basically playing second banana to Mifune for all those years! Ikiru proves that he could have been just as much a "lead" actor as a "character" actor!

But he never complained ~ just the opposite, his performances combined with Mifune's to create a dynamic in those films which is really something special to watch!


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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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