Tengoku to jigoku

I heard about the deaths of Darren Daulton and Don Baylor.  I remembered those Philadelphia Phillies of 1993 and thought about the good times I had during that year.  I saw Don Baylor when he played for the A’s in 1988.  I went to work and felt tired.  I certainly wasn’t looking forward to the fall term.  Back at home, I watched “High and Low” on Blu-ray.  It was an Akira Kurosawa film with Toshiro Mifune, but in a modern setting.  It is a drama involving a kidnapping, police procedures, and drug abuse.  Mifune is in the shoe business, and he is about to take over the company when a kidnapper mistakenly takes his son’s friend.  When he thinks his son is missing, he’s willing to pay any price to get him back, but when it’s actually the chauffeur’s son, he backs down.  This is an adaptation of an Ed McBain novel.  I wondered how people in 1963 reacted to Kurosawa’s showing heroin addiction in Japan in this film.  We see the highs and lows of Japanese society, from the comfortable rich, whose children can play American Western games, to the lowly scum who either resent the rich or are living day to day without any purpose.  The rich aren’t necessarily evil, but they can be so focused on attaining success that they’re oblivious to those who are struggling with poverty.  The police meetings reminded me of scenes from Sidney Lumet.  The movie did make me think of “Dirty Harry” at times.  I felt some sympathy for Gondo’s position.  When it’s just talk, people are idealistic, but when they actually have to sacrifice something, they suddenly don’t want to do anything.  The wife pleads for Gondo to put up the money, but I bet she would complain afterwards when they lose everything.  And what about their spoiled kid, carefree in playing instead of studying or working?  Gondo’s chauffeur begged so much that it was embarrassing.  Stand up and be a man.  Gondo was the only man in the movie, doing what was necessary, even if he did have to be pushed into it.  The crime and the clues are still fascinating after more than fifty years.  I miss Kurosawa and Mifune.  The ending is unusual and not something I would expect from a Japanese movie because it involves confrontation.  It reminded me of “Psycho,” actually.  Watching this movie on Blu-ray was enjoyable, partly because the first time I saw it was on VHS years ago.  I don’t remember if I realized before that “It’s Now or Never” was playing on the radio when the police were closing in on the suspect.  It was kind of interesting how there was rock music on the soundtrack, and some indications of racial issues in this Tokyo almost twenty years after the end of World War II.  Watching “High and Low,” I found it hard to believe that Kurosawa and Mifune wouldn’t go on making movies together forever.  Some of the people who died on August 8 include Shirley Jackson (1965), Sharon Tate (1969), Cannonball Adderley (1975), Fay Wray (2004), Barbara Bel Geddes (2005), and Patricia Neal (2010).  Today is a birthday for The Edge (56), Donny Most (64), Connie Stevens (79), and Dustin Hoffman (80).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for August 8, Brian Hyland had the Number One single in 1960, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”  In 1963, The Kingsmen released their classic record, “Louie, Louie.”  In 1986, David Crosby was released from prison in Huntsville, Texas after serving a three-year sentence for cocaine and weapons possession.  In 2004, the bus driver for the Dave Matthews Band illegally dumped 800 pounds of human waste off the Kinzie Street Bridge onto a tour boar sailing the Chicage River.

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