Seven Samurai

on July 31, 1956 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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Winner of the Lion of St. Mark award at the recent Venice Film Festival, this lengthy Japanese-language feature produced by Sojiro Motoki for Toho was seen by stage producer Joshua Logan, who brought it to Columbia's attention. As an action spectacle, it is a truly magnificent work with tremendous battle scenes filled with violence and cruelty, all splendidly directed by Akira Kurosawa of "Rashomon" fame. Although the black-and-white photography is striking, the beautiful color associated with recent Japanese films would have been an added asset. The picture is strong fare for the art houses but of little value generally. Based on a historical legend of the 16th Century, the story is laid in a small village which is at the mercy of roving bandits and deals with the villagers' decision to select seven Samurai (professional warriors) to protect them. A good deal of humor is woven into these scenes but there is scant human interest and practically no love scenes. The only important female role is in the capable hands of Keiko Tsushima, as a village girl who loves the youngest Samurai. Toshiro Mifune (he starred in "Rashomon") is outstanding as a show-off who proves himself a real hero.

THE STORY:
In the 16th Century, Japan is torn by civil war and small villages are at the mercy of roving bandits. One village decides to engage Samurai with swords for hire. One is a crazed kidnapper, who becomes the leader, another is a would-be hero and show-off and finally all seven are chosen. At first the villagers are terrified of the Samurai but gradually they are accepted into the simple life of the village. After a long training the Samurai are ready for the great onrush of horsemen and during the long battle many lives are lost, including four of the Samurai. But the village is saved and the three surviving Samurai resume the simple pattern of village life.

EXPLOITIPS:
Play up the Lion of St. Mark award at the Venice Film Festival to attract art house patrons. Mention that Akira Kurosawa also directed "Rashomon," the first Japanese film to be shown in this country and that Toshiro Mifune also starred in that popular art house film. Decorate the lobby with lanterns or with Oriental art objects, borrowed from a local novelty shop.

CATCHLINES:
The Mighty Warriors Who Became the Seven National Heroes of a Small Town... Another Outstanding Japanese Film -- Winner of the Lion of St. Mark Award at the Venice Film Festival. Columbia International 155 mins.

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