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Scandal (1950)

Just try not to think about why there's a girl in a crown in there ... just don't worry about it.
Just try not to think about why there's a girl in a crown in there ... just don't worry about it.

Genre: Drama (Japan)

Starring: Toshirô Mifune (Shogun • Yojimbo), Shirley Yamaguchi

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa (Dersu UzalaThe Bad Sleep Well)

Overview: A painter meets a famous singer and offers her a ride to the nearby inn.  When tabloid journalists see the two of them together and turn their supposed relationship into a media circus, the painter hires a lawyer to sue.

Though I'm still waiting patiently for my copy of Kurosawa's autobiography, I already know that the films he writes are relevant to his present-day life.  With Scandal, a story about a media circus trampling on the lives of people, famous though they may be, Kurosawa was sending a damning message to those who would pry in his private life.

Rather than being a simply driven plot about a man's fight against a tabloid magazine whose weasely Editor-in-Chief confesses to a reporter "even if it's not true, what's the worst that can happen? We write a public apology, and sell even MORE magazines," the story is more about the lawyer they hire. He's a man down on his luck with a sick child, and what should be a black and white case of libel becomes far more convoluted, because personal lives are never as simple as a picture may say. Kurosawa's other comments include the Americanization of Japan, a common motif in his post-war films.

That having been said, besides the impressive performance by role of Takashi Shimura as Attorney Hiruta, there's nothing genuinely unique about Scandal. The cinematography isn't streaked with Kurosawan beauty, Toshiro Mifune's character isn't the histrionic upstart we know him as in his most famous roles and as a tale, Scandal is one of the first of The Emperor's where I was disappointed with the climax. Rather than being full of suspense, it was full of suspension of disbelief and unanswered questions.

Aw, poor wretch of a corrupt lawyer! Pity him his evil! look at those puppy dog eyes! 

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 6 Script: 6 Plot: 5 Mood: 6

Overall Rating: 62% (Well I Never!!!)

The performances kept the film entertaining, though I would certainly call this one of the lesser films of Kurosawa's oeuvre. Had this not been one of his films, I probably would not even have reviewed it, having so little to say about it. Some films are seen and quickly forgotten, and Scandal, unfortunately, is one of those that may just have been good for the time and place, but didn't have a timeless quality to it.

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