Leading Men of Japanese Cinema: An Introduction

As promised in the other post, here’s part two. It’s difficult to whittle a list of Japanese actors down to just ten, so this list has a dozen notable names. Each man has certainly left his mark on Japanese cinema. (Note: I didn’t realize until after I put the post together that a number of the photos involve smoking. Interesting.)

Chishû Ryû (1904-1993) – There Was a Father (1942, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Late Spring (1949, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Early Summer (1951, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Tokyo Story (1953, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); An Autumn Afternoon (1962, dir. Yasujirô Ozu)

Takashi Shimura (1905-1982) – Drunken Angel (1948, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Stray Dog (1949, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Ikiru (1952, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Seven Samurai (1954, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Kazuo Hasegawa (1908-1984) – The Tale of Genji (1951, dir. Kôzaburô Yoshimura); Gate of Hell (1953, dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa); The Crucified Lovers (1954, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); The Loyal 47 Ronin (1958, dir. Kunio Watanabe); An Actor’s Revenge (1963, dir. Kon Ichikawa)

Shin Saburi (1909-1982) – The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (1941, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); There Was a Father (1942, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Equinox Flower (1958, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Late Autumn (1960, dir. Yasujirô Ozu)

Masayuki Mori (1911-1973)Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa); The Idiot (1951, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Ugetsu (1953, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960, dir. Mikio Naruse); The Bad Sleep Well (1960, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Minoru Chiaki (1917-1999) – Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Seven Samurai (1954, dir. Akira Kurosawa); I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (1955, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Throne of Blood (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa); The Hidden Fortress (1958, dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Ryô Ikebe (1918-2010) – Early Spring (1956, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Battle in Outer Space (1959, dir. Ishirô Honda); Gorath (1962, dir. Ishirô Honda); Chushingura (1962, dir. Hiroshi Inagaki); Pale Flower (1964, dir. Masahiro Shinoda)

Toshirô Mifune (1920-1997) – Rashomon (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Seven Samurai (1954, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Throne of Blood (1957, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Yojimbo (1961, dir. Akira Kurosawa); High and Low (1963, dir. Akira Kurosawa) – *Also had roles in a number of international productions

Eiji Okada (1920-1995)Mother (1952, dir. Mikio Naruse); Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959, dir. Alain Resnais) [French/Japanese production]; Woman in the Dunes (1964, dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara); The Face of Another (1966, dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara); The X from Outer Space (1967, dir. Kazui Nihonmatsu) – *Had a supporting role in the Marlon Brando film The Ugly American (1963, dir. George Englund)

Eiji Funakoshi (1923-2007)Fires on the Plain (1959, dir. Kon Ichikawa); Being Two Isn’t Easy (1962, dir. Kon Ichikawa); An Actor’s Revenge (1963, dir. Kon Ichikawa); Manji (1964, dir. Yasuzô Masumura); Blind Beast (1969, dir. Yasuzô Masumura)

Raizô Ichikawa (1931-1969)Taira Clan Saga (1955, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi); The Loyal 47 Ronin (1958, dir. Kunio Watanabe); Enjô (1958, dir. Kon Ichikawa); Kiru (1962, dir. Kenji Misumi); An Actor’s Revenge (1963, dir. Kon Ichikawa)

Tatsuya Nakadai (b. 1932) – The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959, dir. Masaki Kobayashi); Yojimbo (1961, dir. Akira Kurosawa); Harakiri (1962, dir. Masaki Kobayashi); The Sword of Doom (1966, dir. Kihachi Okamoto); The Face of Another (1966, dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara) – *Arguably his most famous work is his leading role in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1985), as well as the other two films in the Human Condition trilogy

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