Stray Dog [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1949]

Despite being considered Akira Kurosawa's first important film, the Stray Dog DVD is unfortunately one of the lesser Criterion releases. The print is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, but it is not in good shape. It does show some marks and lines, and the image flickers and fades on occasion. It is still probably made from the best print of the movie that exists, but Criterion has set the bar so high that now consumers expect all their releases to be nearly perfect. The disc's visual deficiencies are somewhat compensated by good supplementary features. It has an informative audio commentary by Stephen Prince, the author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa. Another useful supplement is a 30-minute documentary on the making of Stray Dog, a part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It's Wonderful to Create. It features interviews with a few of Kurosawa's surviving collaborators on that film: art director Toshiro Muraki, script supervisor Teruyo Nogami, and actors Keiko Awaji and Isao Kimura. The booklet that comes with the DVD includes a nice mini-essay by Terrence Rafferty and an excerpt from Kurosawa's book Something Like an Autobiography in which he reminisces about the filming of Stray Dog.
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Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa"
  • A 32-minute documentary on Stray Dog from the series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, including interviews with Kurosawa, production designer Yoshiro Muraki, actress Keiko Awaji, and others
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
  • 16-page booklet featuring Akira Kurosawa on Stray Dog, from his book "Something Like an Autobiography" and an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty


Stray Dog
Akira Kurosawa directs the black-and-white 1949 film noir Nora Inu (released in the U.S. in 1963 as Stray Dog). In his third film with Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune plays young police detective Murakami. One summer day on a crowded bus in Tokyo, his gun is stolen by a pickpocket. Rather than face the shame of reporting his gun missing, he chooses to go out and find it himself (there were not many weapons on the streets of Tokyo immediately following WWII). While trying to locate the gun, he discovers an entire criminal underworld. He is eventually helped on his journey by superior officer Sato (Takashi Shimura), who seems to suggest that the young detective is indulging in his own criminal desires. The search becomes even more desperate when Murakami finds out that his gun has been used in several crimes, including murder. He then develops an obsession with finding both the gun and the killer. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Toshiro Mifune
    Toshiro Mifune - Murakami, the Detective
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    Takashi Shimura - Sato, the Head Detective
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    Keiko Awaji - Harumi, His Girl
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    Ko (Isao) Kimura - Yusa, the Criminal
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    Reisaburo Yamamoto - Hondo, the Suspect

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