Review of Stray Dog (1949)

Moving picture, 122 minutes

Seen in 2017.

On a hot day in Tokyo, a pickpocket takes a homicide detective’s pistol with all seven bullets. The detective, a rookie, was once the victim of a similar crime. Someone took his knapsack on the way home from the war. He played with the idea of robbery then, knowing how the war could turn seemingly anybody into an animal from time to time.

Film noir detective movie prefiguring the buddy cop formula. The first two thirds are strong. Murakami’s long walk through post-war Tokyo neighbourhoods and his discussion of his own après-guerre generation with Satō hold up well. They make an excellent foundation for summer noir. Shimura Takashi does a great job playing the smooth older cop who almost invents retirony, and I enjoyed seeing Mifune Toshirō without all the darkness, grime and facial hair of his later, more famous roles; he’s a more imposing figure in a white suit. The narrative starts to lose steam with the bereaved husband tearing up his wife’s tomato patch, but there’s an interesting twist to the climax: Murakami forgets to bring a gun to a duel.

The official Swedish-language title is Revolvern, and even the English-language DVD subtitles refer to the stolen semi-automatic pistol as a revolver in one instance. The script does not make that mistake.

moving picture Japanese production fiction