Friday, May 10, 2024

Toshirô Mifune, 三船 敏郎, Mifune Toshirō: Part Two, His English Language Film Work

Toshirô Mifune, 三船 敏郎, Mifune Toshirō, although he didn't speak English, made several motion pictures in that language by learning his lines phonetically. Although, most of the producers would still have him dubbed into English by voice actors such as Paul Frees for his first "English language" motion picture.

For those of my readers who may not have read "Part One" of my look at the Japanese acting legend. You will find "Toshirô Mifune, 三船 敏郎, Mifune Toshirō: Part One, Selections of His Japanese Language Film Work" at:

Toshiro Mifune's English language motion picture career started with an International-All-Star feature film. Shot in the CINERAMA process created by Merian C. Cooper, the man who brought the "Eighth Wonder of the World", "King Kong", into life in 1933, but then, that's another story found at:

Grand Prix released in the United States on December 21, 1966

The motion picture had three executive producers, Kirk Douglas, 1955's, "The Racers", that had been directed by Henry Hathaway, John Frankenheimer, and James Gardner.

This motion picture was also directed by John Frankenheimer. Who had just directed the 1966 science fiction-thriller, starring Rock Hudson, "Seconds". Frankenheimer followed this motion picture with "The Fixer", written by one-time blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, a friend of Kirk Douglas. Whom he was able to have removed from being blacklisted, by writing Douglas's production of 1960's, "Spartacus".

The story and screenplay were by Robert Alan Arthur. Who between 1952 and this feature film, mainly wrote television dramas, except for the excellent and overlooked Western, 1959's, "Warlock". That had starred Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Anthony Quinn, and Dorothy Malone.

James Gardner portrayed "Pete Aron". Gardner became popular as "Bret Maverick" from 1957-1962, on the television program "Maverick". My article is "Bret and Bart 'MAVERICK' and Family", and can be read at:

Gardner had just co-starred with Sidney Poitier in the hard hitting Western, 1966's, "Duel at Diablo". James Gardner followed this feature film with a Western portraying "Wyatt Earp", in director John Sturges sequel to his 1957's, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", 1967's, "Hour of the Gun".

Eva Marie Saint portrayed "Louise Frederickson". In 1950, she portrayed "Lieutenant Wilma Deering" on televisions "Buck Rodgers". In 1955, she won the "Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress", for "On the Waterfront", in 1958, Eva Marie Saint was nominated for the "Best Actress Oscar" for "A Hatful of Rain". Her other co-starring roles include 1957's, "Raintree Country", co-starring with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, and director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1959, "North By Northwest".


Yves Montand portrayed "Jean-Pierre Sarti". The Italian born, French actor, had just been seen in the epic Second World War French film, 1966's, "Is Paris Burning?", from a screenplay by Americans Gore Vidal, and Francis Ford Coppola, and French screenplay writers, Jean Aurenche and Pierre Borst. He would follow this feature film co-starring with American actress Candice Bergen in the French film, 1967's, "Live for Life".


Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Izo Yamura", English voice provided by the aforementioned, Paul Frees. Mifune had just appeared in the action adventure feature film, 1966's, "怒涛一万浬 (10,000 Hours of Anger)", and followed this feature film with 1967's, 上意討ち 拝領妻始末 (Samurai Rebellion)". 

Brian Bedford portrayed "Scott Stoddard". British actor Bedford had just been seen in director Ross Hunter's, 1966 comedy, "The Pad (and How to Use It)". He followed this motion picture with an appearance on the British television series, "Coronet Blue".

Jessica Walter portrayed "Pat". She had just been seen in the film version of Mary McCarthy's controversial novel, "The Group". The television actress, who had portrayed "Lucille Bluth", on "Arrested Development", from 2003-2019, and most recently voiced "Malory Archer", on the animated series, "Archer", 2009-2023, is probably more recognized for portraying the psycho obsessed with Clint Eastwood, in 1971's, "Play Misty for Me".

Antonio Sabato portrtayed "Nino Barlini". This was the Sicilian actor's second feature film and he would go on to star in Italian Spaghetti Westerns and become the father of model and actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Françoise Hardy portrayed "Lisa". This was the Paris, France, born actresses eighth of only fifteen on-screen appearances. Her major career was as a song-writer in France.

Set against the "Formula One Grand Prix" European circuit in 1966, the movie focuses on four drivers, their racing, their personal competition, and their love life. The climax of the motion picture is at the "Italian Grand Prix".

"Pete Aron" has a reputation as a reckless driver, the character starts driving for the real company, "Jordan British Racing Motors (BRM)", but is dropped after possibly causing the crash injuring "Scott Stoddard". "Aron" will be picked-up by the fictional Japanese company, "Yamura Motors", owned by Japanese businessman "Izo Yamura". "Yamura's" Japanese drivers are very good, but not up to the quality needed to win in "Formula One" and he is looking for a driver that will put the company on the podium and hopefully in first place. "Izo Yamura" believes "Pete Aron" is such a formula one driver and offers him a chance to redeem himself. A side story line has "Pete" reunite his affair with "Pat Stoddard".

"Scott Stoddard" races for "Jordan British Racing Motors", but has never won a championship in his career and is haunted by the memory of his late brother, a multi-champion "Grand Prix" racer. His house is filled with all the trophies and awards given his brother. After being hospitalized from the crash, "Scott" is more obsessed with becoming the champion his brother was and it is that obsession which has been driving "Pat", who hates "Scott's" brother's ghost, from him. 

"Jean-Pierre Sarti"drives for "Ferrari" and after two championships over many years of racing, has become cynical about the sport and life itself. His wife, "Monique Delvaux-Sarti" portrayed by French actress Genevieve Page, understands her husband's "affairs of the moment", but is firm that everything her husband has will come to her alone. After "Monique" confronts American magazine writer, "Louise Frederickson", the "affair of this moment", who has fallen in love with "Sarti", "Monique" reminds her husband she will never divorce him. In the climatic race, "Jean-Pierre Sarti's" car flies off the roadway in a specular crash. He is rushed into an ambulance obviously dying, "Louise" attempts to enter it, but "Monique" blocks her. To "Monique", "Louise" is nothing more than that affair of the moment. As the ambulance drives away, "Louise" in a state of shock, is ignored by the crowd as she wanders around.

"Nino Barlini" also drives for "Ferrari", and patiently awaits his turn as their head "Formula One" driver. He has an affair with a French "Grand Prix" groupie, "Lisa". After the season ends, he wants her to stay with him, but like a refreshing breeze, she leaves the now "Number One Ferrari Driver".

The motion picture ends with "Pete Aron", the winner of the "Italian Grand Prix", walking an empty track, with empty grandstands, and another race to be won for the championship.


With eight co-starring actors in Grand Prix"! It's hard for any actor to develop a character that stands out with the audience. Especially, because, in this case, the racing is the star, and "Cinerama" the real co-star on the roadshow engagements.

However, Toshiro Mifune's next American motion picture truly took care of that situation and the language problem.

HELL IN THE PACIFIC released in the United States on December 18, 1968, and in Japan on December 21, 1968

The motion picture was from British director John Boorman. He had just directed Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson in the crime thriller, 1967's, "Point Blank". 

This story came from the film's producer Reuben Bercovitch. Who had also come up with the original stories for "Toho Studio's" science fiction films, 1965's, "Frankenstein vs Baragon (Frankenstein Conquerors the World)", and 1966's, "Frankenstein's Sons: Sanda and Gaira (War of the Gargantuas)".

The credited screenplay writers are Alexander Jacobs, 1967's, "Point Blank", and 1973's, "The Seven Ups", and Eric Bercovici, author James Clavell's 1980's, "Shogun", more later, and Clavell's, 1988, "Noble House". The third screenplay writer is the uncredited Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa's, 1950, "Rashomon", 1952, "Ikiru", and 1958's, "The Hidden Fortress", see "Part One".

Dialogue is almost non-existent in the screenplay and requires the actors to communicate to the audience through their acting and the situations as directed by John Boorman. To keep the realistic point of view, there are no subtitles used for the audience to understand what is being said by the Japanese character in the story.

Lee Marvin portrayed the "American Pilot". He had just appeared in the feature film, 1968's, "Sergeant Ryker", which was actually a two-part, 1963 television program on "Kraft Suspense Theatre", re-edited into this feature film, because of the success of Marvin's, 1967, "The Dirty Dozen".

Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Japanese Captain Tsuruhiko Kurdo". Earlier in 1968, Toshiro Mifune starred in the epic biographical film, "連合艦隊司令長官 山本五十六 (Rengō Kantai Shirei Chōkan Yamamoto Isoroku)" aka: "Isoroku Yamamoto: Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet" aka: "Admiral Yamamoto".

This is a story of survival, and how two enemies can become friends under unique circumstances.

The audience meets two military servicemen stranded for different reasons on a deserted Pacific Island during the Second World War. The Japanese officer has been on the island longer and has established a camp site. One day, he finds an American plane and the crash kit needed by the pilot, who watches from the jungle, and when the Japanese officer starts to recover the kit, the American pilot comes out of hiding to get it back. In this confrontation, both men envision themselves being beaten by the other man. 

When the American pilot notices that the Japanese officer has a small reservoir of fresh drinking water. He decides to break-off their confrontation and make a grab for it, but is driven back into the jungle. Thus begins a story of two enemy soldiers who needs the other to survive.

The next day the American pilot finally steals some fresh water and runs off. This takes place while the Japanese officer is in the water checking his fish traps. When the American tries a third time for more water, he is confronted, falls onto the fresh water reservoir, destroying it and runs away. Later, after some more back and forth, the American pilot is captured by the Japanese officer, his hands tied to a log and made to walk back and forth in the sand.

After some time, the American pilot is able to escape and reverses the situation, binding the Japanese officer to the same log.

However, the American pilot becomes frustrated attempting to cook food and realizes he needs the Japanese officer's help. He unbinds him, the Japanese officer cooks the food for the two of them and a cautious friendship starts to build.

Next, the pilot notices that the officer is attempting to build a raft and joins him in its construction. The two now set sail, overcome strong waves pushing the raft back toward land, but finally make it to open water.

After days of sailing, they come upon a new set of islands, one with what appears to be an abandoned base, and land there. The Japanese officer takes the lead and the abandoned base appears to have been Japanese, but the pilot sees a large dump of American supplies and starts running to them. At the same time yelling to any hidden American soldiers that the Japanese officer is a friend. However, realizing that the base is truly abandoned by both the Japanese and American's, the two friends start rummaging through the supplies.

That night, the two men are in a deserted building and the Japanese officer finds a copy of "Life Magazine", sees photos of imprisoned Japanese soldiers and becomes angry at the American. Who has been trying to get the Japanese officer to tell him, if the Japanese people believe in God? What neither seems to be hearing is the sounds of shelling from off shore onto the island and as their arguments continue, a shell hits the building destroying it and anyone inside from a never stated country's navy.

The above ending was added without John Boorman being consulted. This happened in the United Kingdom, before the films release there. The ending the director had, shows the two men walking away from each other, giving the impression that neither got the answer they wanted, and that they were once more enemies.

In 1961's "Yojimbo", Toshiro Mifune found himself portraying a ronin in a Japanese town that seemed to be patterned after the American Wild West, see "Part One". In his next English language feature film, he was a samurai in the American Wild West.
RED SUN was first released in France on September 15, 1971. Next in Italy on October 26, 1971, Japan on November 26, 1971, Spain on December 20, 1971, the United States on June 9, 1971, and the United Kingdom on June 22, 1972


This was an Italian Spaghetti Western, a co-production of France, Italy, and Spain, shot in both Almeria, and Andalicia, Spain. The motion picture was completely filmed in the English language. A rarity for a Spaghetti Western, which let all the actors speak their lines in their own languages and then would be dubbed into the needed language for the country the picture would be shown in.

"RED SUN" was directed by British director Terence Young, 1962's, "Dr. No", 1963's, "From Russia with Love", and 1965's, "Thunderball". He had just directed the 1970, Italian feature film, "Cold Sweat", starring Charles Bronson, James Mason, and Liv Ullman, and followed this feature with another Italian motion picture, 1972's, "The Valachi Papers", also starring Charles Bronson, but with his wife, Jill Ireland. 

The story is credited to American, Laird Koenig. Who started out writing for Ivan Tors' television show, "Flipper", and wrote an episode of televisions "The High Chaparral", just before this film. He followed this motion picture by writing the screenplay based upon his horror/mystery novel, 1976's, "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane". 

However, producer Ted Richmond, before he left the production, is credited to having found a true story from 1860 that the screenplay is, at least, partially, based upon. Which was about a Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States, see the link below:

The screenplay was by three American writers:

Denne Bart Petitclerc, was an American television writer specializing on westerns prior to this motion picture. 

William Roberts created televisions "The Donna Reed Show", 1958-1966, and wrote for the short lived television series based upon director John Sturges', "The Magnificent Seven", 1998-2000. It should be noted, see "Part One", that original movie was based upon director Akira Kurosawa's, 1954, "The Seven Samurai", which co-starred Toshiro Mifune.  

Lawrence Roman started writing screenplays in 1951. Among those was the Audie Murphy and Walter Brennan Western, 1954's, "Drums Across the River", the excellent drama, 1957's, "Slaughter on 10th Avenue", starring Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, and Dan Duryea, and the Fred MacMurray Western, 1958's, "Day of the Bad Man".

American actor Charles Bronson portrayed "Link Stuart". Charles Buchinsky started on-screen acting in 1949, and under that name, portrayed the mute, "Igor", in the 1953, 3-D horror movie, "House of Wax". He first appeared billed as Charles Bronson, on the "Lux Video Theatre", 1955 television production of "A Bell for Adano". He portrayed "Bernardo O'Reilly", in 1960's, "The Magnificent Seven", and had just been seen in the Italian crime drama, 1971's, "Someone Behind the Door", co-starring with Anthony Perkins, and his wife Jill Ireland. The actor followed this motion picture with the American revisionist Western, 1972's, "Chato's Land".

Swiss actress Ursula Andress portrayed "Cristina". She started out in three Italian motions in 1954 and 1955, and didn't appear again on-screen until 1962. That was in the role of "Honey Ryder". in the first "James Bond" motion picture, "Dr. No", as I mentioned, directed by Terence Young, and starring Sean Connery as the second "James Bond". She had just been seen in the British crime comedy, 1970's, "Perfect Friday", and followed this picture with the Italian crime drama, 1973's, "Stateline Motel".

Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Kurodo Jubei", a name never mentioned in the motion picture. The actor had just been seen in 1970's, "激動の昭和史 軍閥, (Gekido no Showa shi-Gunbatsu)" aka: "The Militarists", not for the last time portraying "Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto". He would follow this motion picture appearing in the Japanese television mini-series, 1971's, "Dai Chushingura". 

French actor Alain Delon portrayed "Gauche". He became an international star with Italian director Luchino Visconti's, "Rocco and His Brothers". Also for Visconti, he co-starred with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, in the epic 1963, "The Leopard". In 1965, Alain Delon co-starred with Ann-Margaret and Van Heflin, in "Once a Thief", and in 1966, he co-starred with Dean Martin and Joey Bishop, in the comedy western, "Texas Across the River", and was in the cast of "Is Paris Burning?".

The basic plot line is familiar to anyone who has seen a Western movie since the silent era. Two partners hold-up a train for the gold shipment and one turns on the other, leaving him for dead, but he's not and goes after his partner. That would make this a very good typical Western, but there's a catch here that raises the story.

The year is 1860, and that first diplomatic delegation from Japan has come to the United States with a gift for President James Buchanan, a samurai sword inlaid with pure gold.

The movie opens with a train pulling into a station and passengers disembarking, or embarking on it. "Link" watches as "Kurodo Jubei" comes out of a private car to stretch his legs and their eyes meet. A member of the hold-up gang, who's on the train gets "Links" attention, drawing a star on the window to warn him that "Sheriff Stone", portrayed by George W. Lycan, is nearby. Also, the gold shipment is being guarded by Union soldiers.

The train pulls out of the station, "Link" is standing on the rear platform of the last train car, when a old friend, "Sheriff Stone" appears and plans on arresting him, because the price on his head just went up. However, "Gauche" comes out of the car, another old friend, and at the point of gun, convinces "Stone" to jump off the moving train.

Next, "Link" and "Gauche" re-enter the train car and take seats. Lighting a match as a signal to the other members of their gang, which the passenger next to him asks to use the match to light his cigar.

Next, "Link" gets up and informs the passengers that he, and those men that just assembled their rifles, are going to treat them to an old fashion hold-up. The man opposite "Gauche" attempts to get out a gun and is shot dead by the other, the bullet passing through that man, his seat cushion, and the cushion on the other side of him, killing both passengers. 

The train is stopped by a sheepherder, whose sheep are blocking it by covering the train track. Another man, out of the engineers view, enters the cab, and places a gun in his back telling him to stop. At which point, the rest of the gang come out of the hills and a gun battle with the Union soldiers takes place, killing them and a few of "Gauche" and "Link's" men.

The man guarding the locked train car containing the gold in a safe refuses to open the train car door for "Link" and shoots a rifle through the wooden slats at the train robber.


A dynamiter in the gang blows the car door open and inside "Link" looks at the dying guard. Next, "Link" is seen counting the money sacks and the dynamiter attempts to warn "Link" not to trust "Gauche", who walks in as the warning is being given. 

"Link" and "Gauche" leave and prepare to enter the special train car with their pistols pulled. Out of the train car comes a Japanese man, and in perfect English introduces himself as the "Ambassador from Japan", portrayed by Tetsu Nakamura, billed as Satoshi Nakamura.

My article is "SATOSHI NAKAMURA: Japan's Toho Studio's Contract Character Actor" at:

The three enter the private train car as "Link" explains to the ambassador what a hold-up is and is shown where the money is in a box on floor. However, behind the box are two Samurai guards and one is the man "Link" saw before.

"Link" looks at the money in the box, thanks the ambassador, and wishes him a safe trip to Washington, D.C., and leaves. However, as he starts to leave, "Cauche" notices the sword case, asks to have it opened, sees the sword and mentions all the gold on it. As he starts to take it, the second Samurai immediately goes for him and is shot to death. "Gauche" now leaves with the sword as the ambassador stops "Kurodo Jubei" from going after him.

"Link" is back counting what remains of the gold, most of it is already on horseback, when two of "Gauche's" men ride pass the train car tossing in dynamite and blowing the it up with "Link" inside. As "Gauche" and his men start to ride away, "Kurodo Jubei", calls to the other demanding to know what his name is? Satoshi Nakamura, who was born in Canada, worked with Toshiro Mifune on his few English language lines. "Gauche" asks "Kurdo" why he wants to know his name and is told so he knows whom he going to kill. Shaking his head at the idea, "Gauche" starts to ride away and yells his name back at the Samurai.

Next, "Kurodo Jubei" and the servants of the Japanese ambassador are seen properly burying the other Samurai murdered by "Gauche" and he notices "Link's" body, goes over, and realizes he is still alive.

"Link" is in the Japanese ambassadors train car washing his face and is told that the ambassador wants him to lead "Kurodo Jubei" to "Gauche". 

"Link" has one interest on his mind, the gold, and doesn't want any man "wearing a dress" to interfere with him. "Kurodo Jubei" literally makes the point that "Link" has no say-so in the matter.

As "Link" watches, the Japanese ambassador gives the Samurai a rope with seven knots in it, tied to a small piece of wood. The ambassador first states he will return in seven days on the same train. He next informs "Link" that he has given his samurai seven days to return the sword to him, or commit ritual suicide, Seppuku. When "Link" learns what that is, he says he'll be glad to watch "Kurodo" split open his stomach.

The two men now leave on foot with "Link" thinking only of how he'll get away from the "man in the dress". "Red Sun" is tagged as the "First East Meets West Western". The tag line really fits the sometimes comic ways "Link" is trying to get away from "Kurodo". As he discovers that his "man in a dress" is a lot different from his impression of the Japanese Samurai. So far, "Link" keeps complaining about "Kurodo" and the fact that the Samurai will kill "Gauche" on sight, and he needs time to find out what "Gauche" did with the gold? A sequence already seen, has "Gauche" watching his men finishing the burying of all the gold sacks, after which he murders them. 

"Link" keeps thinking "Kurodo" doesn't understand a word he's saying, when around their campsite, "Kurodo" in perfect English tells him to stop complaining, shocking the other.

As they continue after "Gauche", "Link" keeps asking for several days to question him about the gold, which "Kurodo" can't afford to even give "Link" one.

One of the better comic situations comes with "Link" hiding behind some rocks knowing "Kurodo" is following. As the other approaches, "Link" attacks him with a long strong stick and every lunge by "Link", results is the stick becoming shorter and shorter from "Kurodo's" "大太刀 (Odachi)", the Samurai long sword as the following stills show.

The two men come upon a farm, hide and watch from the barn, as some of "Gauche's" men come out of the house after rapping the farmer's wife, witness the farmer's murder, but know the daughter is safe hiding out in the corn field. "Link" and "Kurodo" kill "Gauche's" men, and for a moment "Link" confronts "Kurodo" about the time he needs, but instead of following through with it. "Link" and "Kurodo" take two horses and leave mother and daughter dealing with the dead farmer.

"Link" again attempts to get away from "Kurodo" and the two fight in a river. During the fight, "Link" realizes he may have to drown the Samurai to stop "Kurodo" from following him. Their friendship is now set and they have a friendly argument over the time "Link" needs with "Gauche".

Next, "Link" reveals that the knows how to get "Gauche" to come to them. When asked by "Kurodo" how? The one word reply is "Cristina!

Arriving in the town of San Luca that night, "Link" and "Kurodo" observe some of "Gauche's" men at the other end of the Main Street, and enter the local bordello. Which is run by a Mexican madame named "Pepita", portrayed by French actress, "Capucine". "Pepita" is very glad to see "Link" and confirms that "Cristina" is in her upstairs room. "Cristina" is told there's someone wanting to see her, and immediately believes "Gauche" has returned. When "Link" enters. "Cristina" starts throwing things at him and wants to kill him. As he leaves, "Link" locks the door from the outside, but "Cristina" dresses and goes to the window thinking to escape and go to "Gaughe's" men. "Link" is way ahead of her and is  hammering wood slates over the window's outside, further maddening "Gauche's" girlfriend. 

Next, "Link" invites "Kurodo" to enjoy the hospitality of "Pepita's" bordello.

The following morning, some of "Gauche's" men show-up to escort "Cristina" to him, but she yells to the one at her door that "Link's" there. While, "Kurodo" attacks that man with his "Odachi".

When the killing is done, only one of "Gauche's" men is left alive, "Hyatt", portrayed by Scottish actor Anthony Dawson, billed as Tony Dawson. He portrayed the hired killer who attempts to kill Grace Kelly in director Alfred Hitchcock's only 3-D movie, 1954's, "Dial M for Murder", and appeared in all three "James Bond" movies directed by Terence Young.

"Link" now goes to "Cristina" and picks out her traveling clothes.


Taking "Hyatt" with them, "Link" leads "Kurodo" and "Cristina" out of San Lucas towards the snow capped mountains. Before heading into them, he tells "Hyatt" to deliver a message to "Gauche" that he has "Cristina" and will meet him at the old abandoned mission to exchange her for the gold. 

"Hyatt" will ride to "Gauche's" hideout, relay the message from "Link", almost be killed by "Gauche" for  being the only man left alive. Instead, "Gauche"tells what's left of his men that they're going to the mission. 

On the ride to the mission, which is a day's more ride, the three stop and "Kurodo" takes a bath in a spring, while "Link" steals his clothing. Which leads to a bargaining session over how much time "Link" gets before "Kuroda" kills "Gauche" and an agreement is made.


That finally settled, the three start for the mission, but "Gauche's" men are seen at a distance and "Cristina" cuts away from the other two and heads for them. She catches up to the riders, only to discover they're Comanche's wearing the clothing of the men "Gauche" had killed. The Comanche's start to move her like cattle and a warrior comes off his horse and grabs "Cristina", who uses his knife to stab him. This changes her situation and she is tied down to poles in the ground, a leather strap is placed around her neck after being wetted, and the Comanche's watch as the sun drys the strap and it tightens around "Cristina's" throat.


"Link" and "Kurodo" come to "Cristina's" rescue, killing some Comanche's, while driving off the others. "Kurodo" wants to use his "Odachi" to cut the leather knot, but "Link" stops him, and instead takes out his pistol and shoots it open. Then he slowly gives her water.

The three now arrive at the mission and see indications that the Comanche's had attacked whomever was there in the past.

Upon entering the mission, the three are met by "Gauche" and his men.

However, before that situation, expected by "Link", gets out of hand, "Hyatt" is shot with a Comanche arrow in the back and everyone is now a group fighting for survival.

The Comanche's set the mission on fire and "Link", "Kurodo", "Cristina", "Gauche" and what's left of his men escape into the cane field on one side of the mission. The Comanche's now start moving through the cane looking for the group and killing the rest of "Gauche's" men. "Link" asks "Kurodo" if he can use his "Odachi" and make a fire break? He does, and the four move into it as fire tipped Comanche arrows start landing in the cane field. However, several of the Comanche's are killed by the five and as the fire rages, the rest leave the mission area for good.

After a short period to catch their breath, "Gauche" now faces "Link", who has run out of bullets, for their final showdown. At the same moment, "Kurodo" starts to go for "Gauche", but remembering his promise to "Link", to allow him sometime to get the information on the gold, hesitates, and is shot and killed by "Gauche".

"Link" grabs a rifle and shoots "Gauche", but the other doesn't believe he will kill him without learning about the gold, as does "Cristina". 

However, "Link" is a changed man and thinking about "Kurodo's" honor, kills the surprised "Gauche" without having him reveal the hiding place of the gold. 

"Cristina" is stunned over this development, but she watches "Link" bury "Kurodo" and take possession of the Samurai sword.

"Cristina" wants to know how "Link" will find the gold and offers herself as partner. Again, she is surprised when "Link" will have nothing to do with her, or the gold. Instead, as the Japanese ambassadors train pull into the station, hanging from the wind mill is the Samurai sword as "Link" rides away.

After appearing on the Japanese television mini-series, 1971's, "Dai Chushingura", Toshiro Mifune guest starred on three other television programs, one in each year 1972, 1973, and 1974. Then he was back in his first motion picture since "Red Sun".

PAPER TIGER premiering in London, England, May 1, 1975

Above the English language poster and below the Japanese. The film was released in both languages, but shot in English by the Rank-Organization in the United Kingdom.

The motion picture was directed by Ken Annakin. Who had started as a documentary director in 1943  with the war time, "London 1942". Like many companies when the Second World War broke out, Walter Elias Disney had funds tied up in British banks that he couldn't touch until after the war. Two of the four motion pictures he made, after the war ended, were directed by Annakin, 1952's, "The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men", and 1953's, "The Sword and the Rose". My article is "Walt Disney's Four British Tax Feature Films (1950 to 1954)" which can be read at:

Closer to this motion picture, Ken Annakin directed in 1965, both the comedy set in 1910, "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours and 11 minutes", and the Second World War, "The Battle of the Bulge". Just before this feature film was the 1972 version of American author Jack London's, "The Call of the Wild", starring Charlton Heston.

The screenplay was by the novel's writer Jack Davies.

David Niven portrayed "Walter Bradbury". He had just starred in the horror comedy, 1974's, "Vampira" aka: "Old Dracula".

Toshiro Mifune portrayed "The Japanese Ambassador", with his English language voice dubbed by David de Meyer 

Hardy Kruger portrayed "Muller". The Berlin born actor followed this feature film with director Stanley Kubrick's, 1975, "Barry Lyndon".

Described as an adventure-drama, the movie is considered a waste of three fine actors. This is in many ways, a rip-off of American author James Thurber's character of "Walter Mitty" gone wrong. "Walter Bradbury" tells the Japanese Ambassador to a fictional Asian country. That he is a British Army ex-Major hoping to obtain the position of tutor to the ambassador's son.

"Bradbury" tells the ambassador and his son, "Kochi", portrayed by Kazuhito Ando. That he is the son of a Viscount, a nephew of a British general, had been a member of Parliament, and that his limp was the result of an accident during the 24 Hours of LeMans.  

While, the ambassador is starting to doubt "MAJOR Bradbury's" tales, his son is enthralled and that goes to his father's heart. Like in the "Walter Mitty" movies, "Walter Bradbury's" stories come to life in the mind of "Kochi" and on-screen for the audience.

Then, both the tutor and the student are kidnapped by terrorists demanding the release of 65 political prisoners as a trade for the two. Instead, "Walter" and "Kochi" manage their own escape, and to keep from be identified by the terrorists, they use black face, but never change their clothes. 

In the end the terrorists are captured, and "Walter Bradbury" admits the truth about himself. For example his limp was from polio, and he was only a country school master during the Second World War. He is forgiven by the ambassador and seeing how much his son has become a man as a result of knowing the school master, is asked to keep telling his stories.

Immediately after the filming of "Paper Tiger", came the next motion picture that Toshiro Mifune would appear in, also in the United Kingdom.

THE NEW SPARTANS filming was never completed

What I could find out about this 1975 motion picture came from several different sources. The filming started at "Twickenham Studios", Middlesex, England, and was to have gone to "Ardmore Studios", Herbert Road, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. Apparently, just like with Stanley Kubrick's, "Barry Lyndon", that same year, the "Irish Republican Army (IRA)" threaten the production if any British actors, or crew came to Northern Ireland. Information about this can be found on the website, "Boards.IE", at:

The motion picture was directed by Refugio, Texas, actor turned director, Jack Starrett. As an actor he was in both 1967's, "Hells Angels On Wheels", and "The Born Losers", 1974's, "Blazing Saddles", and 1982's, "First Blood", among others. As a director, his work included, 1969's, "Run, Angel, Run!", 1973's, "Cleopatra Jones", and 1976's, "A Small Town in Texas".

The motion picture was written by British writer Anthony Greville-Bell, 1973's, "Theatre of Blood", and Canadian writer Rodney "Rod" Webb, the Canadian television shows, "Let's Go", and "The Rockets".

The story was supposed to be a "Blazing Saddles" style Second World War comedy. 

The cast:

Toshiro Mifune portrayed a "WW2 Vet", who believes the war was still going. Oliver Reed portrayed "Colonel Lancelot", Fred Williamson portrayed "Lincoln Jefferson Washington IV", Patrick Wayne portrayed "Bigdick McCracken", Jimmy Wang Wu portrayed "Martial Arts movie star Wang Fu". 

So, except for Toshiro Mifune, and Jimmy Wang Wu, there apparently is no information as to what the other actors roles actually were about. Then we have  Susan George, and Harry Andrews, without any information about even the names of their characters.

The only stills, no videos, from the movie available, are the following with Oliver Reed and a stuntman falling off a castle.

From a non-finished British motion picture, Toshiro Mifune now found himself in a big-budget, all-star, American Second World War motion picture in a deja vu role.

MIDWAY released in the United States on June 18, 1976

Above, one of the original United States posters, below the original Japanese poster.

The motion picture was the second feature released in "Sensurround", the first was 1974's, "Earthquake". This was a low-frequency sound system the was felt rather than heard. It brought realism to the battle sequences, for example, the sounds of the B-25 bombers before and during take-off from the flight deck of the "USS Hornet" on the "Doolittle" raid on Tokyo, seen below using actual footage, made the audience feel like they're actually on that carrier's flight deck at that moment.

The motion picture was directed by ex-U.S. Army Air Corps, Pacific Theater, Jack Smight. He had just directed Charlton Heston, Karen Black, and George Kennedy, in 1974's, "Airport 1975", and followed this motion picture with the Jan-Michael Vincent and George Peppard, 1977, science fiction, "Damnation Alley".

The screenplay was by ex-U.S. Navy, Donald S. Sanford. He started out writing television shows in 1950, and his first motion picture screenplay wasn't until 1968, with "Submarine X-1", starring James Caan, immediately followed with 1969, "The Thousand Plane Raid", starring Christopher George, followed by David McCallum in 1969's, "Mosquito Squadron". Then it was back to television until this motion picture.

Charlton Heston portrayed the fictional "Captain Matt Garth". He had just co-starred with James Colburn in the 1976 Western, "The Last Hard Men", and starred in 1976's, "Two-Minute Warning", be sure to see the original theatrical version and not the  television version. Which removed violent footage, added new footage, and made the lone snipper, who had no apparent motive killing people at a football game, into a very tone-down distraction for a major robbery. My reader may not want to believe the following linked story, but it is verified. My article is "CHARLTON HESTON: The Original 'INDIANA JONES", dug-up at:



Henry Fonda portrayed "Admiral Chester W. Nimitz". He had just been seen in the made-for-television movie portraying a controversial American Army General in 1976's, "Collision Course: Truman vs MacArthur". Henry Fonda followed this motion picture with a television mini-series, 1976's, "Captains and Kings". In 1940, the actor received his first "Best Actor Academy Award" nomination for his definitive role in a motion picture based upon a classic novel published just one-year before. My article is "John Steinbeck, John Ford, Henry Fonda and Woody Guthrie: 'Tom Joad!" at:

James Colburn portrayed the fictional "Captain Vincent Maddox". As already mentioned, he had just co-starred with Charlton Heston in the 1976 Western, "The Last Hard Man". James Colburn would co-star next with James Mason and Maximillian Schell, in director Sam Peckinpah's, 1977, "Cross of Iron". 

Glenn Ford portrayed "Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance". When I think of Glenn Ford, I think of one movie that went against character, the seldom seen, or remembered, 1949, "Lust for Gold", co-starring Ida Lupino, in the story of the "Lost Dutchman Mine". I would also direct my reader to another seldom seen motion picture, the Western, 1956's, "The Fastest Gun Alive", co-starring Broderick Crawford, and one other. While I'm on a roll, airplane novelist Ernest K. Gann's, 1964, "Fate is the Hunter", co-starring Rod Taylor.

Hal Holbrook portrayed "Commander Joseph Rochefort". The actor had just been seen in a six-part television mini-series covering the life of "President Abraham Lincoln". As with his one-man stage show, "Mark Twain Tonight", Hal Holbrook was memorable. 

Toshiro Mifune portrayed a role, by now, he could do in his sleep, "Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto". After this motion picture, the actor returned to Japanese television in two series, one modern, and one about Samurai falconers who investigate peoples claims of crimes and corruption. Unfortunately, I couldn't locate more detail on that last 1978 television program, other than the title, "Edo no Taka: Goyobeya Hankacho (Falcons of Edo)".

Robert Mitchum portrayed "Admiral William F. Halsey". Mitchum had just portrayed American detective writer Raymond Chandler's, "Philip Marlowe", in the film-noir, 1975's, "Farewell My Lovely". After this feature film, Robert Mitchum switched classic American authors to F. Scott Fitzgerald, in 1976', "The Last Tycoon". Usually overlooked is that fact that Robert Mitchum performed a few major songs. My article is "Robert Mitchum: The 'Anti-Hero Tough Guy' As A Motion Picture Singer"at:

Above, Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford, and Robert Mitchum

Cliff Robertson portrayed the fictional "Commander Carl Jessop". He had just co-starred with Ernest Borgnine in the 1976, crime thriller, "Shoot", and followed this feature film with director Brian de Palma's, mystery thriller, 1976's, "Obsession".

Robert Wagner portrayed the fictional "Lieutenant Commander Ernest L. Blake". The actor was co-starring with Eddie Albert on the television series "Switch" since March 1975, and would continue through July 1978. On December 6, 1976, with his wife actress Natalie Wood, the two were in the cast of a television production of American playwright, Tennessee Williams', "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Sir Laurence Olivier as "Big Daddy".

The technical crew for "Midway's" special effects only lists two-names and they are:

The credited Jack McMaster, one of fourteen-names listed for special effects on 1939's "The Wizard of Oz". He apparently had no other credits in the field until the 1973 Western, "Showdown", starring Dean Martin and Rock Hudson. For a total of only a six movie career as a Special Effects Artist. 

The other was the uncredited Ted Koerner, who between 1973 and 1992, is shown with having a career of 109-titles. Which is misleading, as those titles include many more episodes within a television title, such as 26-episodes of "M.A.S.H.", 45-episodes of "Fantasy Island", and 44-episodes of "Airwolf".

Part of the reason for only needing a crew of two special effects artists, is the inclusion of stock footage from:

"Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's" 1944, "Thirty-Seconds Over Tokyo". 
"Universal Pictures", 1956, "Away All Boats".
"Toho Studio's" 1960, "Hawai Middouei daikaikusen: Taiheiyo no arashi (Storm Over the Pacific)", see "Part One".
"Spitfire Productions" (released through "United Artists") 1969, "Battle for Britain".
"20th Century Fox's", 1970, "Tora, Tora, Tora".
 Along with actual color combat footage from "Midway".

All blended into the newly filmed sequences with the actors by the two film editors, Robert Swink, 1953's, "Roman Holiday", 1968's, "Funny Girl", and 1978's, "The Boys from Brazil", and Frank J. Urioste, 1977's, "Damnation Alley", 1987's, "Robo Cop", and 1988, "Die Hard".

This brings me to the actual screenplay that has a subplot involving Charlton Heston's air ops commander,  the fictional "Captain Matthew Garth", and his rocky relationship with his son, pilot, "Lieutenant Thomas Garth", portrayed by Edward Albert. Who is in love with a Japanese American girl, "Haruko Sakura", portrayed by Christina Kokubo, interned with her parents in the "Honouiliuli Concentration Camp" on Hawaii. Here the screenplay writers attempt, not very well,  into making "Garth" the every man non-Japanese American during the Second World War.

To be clear, the "Garth" subplot keeps interrupting that actual recreation of the events leading up to the battle of "Midway Island" and the defeat of the Japanese navy. 

Here are three examples:

1. "Garth" attempts to get the family moved out of the concentration camp and running into heavier anti-Japanese feeling than his own.

2. According to the screenplay, "Commander Joseph Rochefort" might not of cracked the Japanese code, if not for some interplay dialogue with "Garth". 

3. Then we have "Garth" seemingly influencing "Admiral Nimitz", and at the film's climax, heroically being killed.


The fictional intelligence officer from Washington, "Captain Maddox", is both a pain-in-the-ass to "Nimitz", but used in the screenplay to bring out facts related to "Rochefort's" code breaking as the following exchange indicates.

Captain Vinton Maddox Admiral, these enemy radio intercepts that your intelligence unit has been accumulating...

Admiral Nimitz Very detailed, aren't they?

Captain Vinton Maddox Too damned detailed, Admiral. Do you remember what happened just before December 7th?

Admiral Nimitz The Japanese flooded the airwaves with fake messages.

Captain Vinton Maddox Yes. These could be carbon copies. Washington's convinced that Yamamoto's feeding this stuff to you in order to cover his real intentions.

Admiral Nimitz Very definite possibility.

Captain Vinton Maddox Well then, sir, how can you still insist...

Admiral Nimitz Because it is my judgement that this information is factual. I'm convinced Yamamoto's target is Midway.

Captain Vinton Maddox If you're wrong, Admiral, if you send our carriers into a Japanese ambush, the entire west coast and Hawaiian islands will be wide open for invasion.

Admiral Nimitz I'm fully aware of that, Captain. You're saying the safe play is to defend the home folks first.

Captain Vinton Maddox With respects, Admiral, it's the smart play.

While, Toshiro Mifune's role of "Admiral Yamamoto" is actually very small, and partly for his name recognition, and used to set up the Japanese navy's role in the "Battle of the Coral Sea", and the climatic "Battle of Midway". 

Above left, Toshiro Mifune portraying "Admiral Yamamoto" and American actor, Clyde Kursatu, mainly an American television and animated voice actor, portraying fictional "Commander Yasuji Watanabe".

Below on the left is James Shigeta portraying "Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo", 1961's, "Bridge to the Sun", co-starring with Carrol Baker, Rodgers and Hammerstein's, 1961, "Flower Drum Song", Elvis Presley's, 1966, "Paradise, Hawaiian Style", and Robert Mitchum's, 1974, "The Yakuza".

On the right is Pat Morita portraying "Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka". Televisions "Happy Days", and "Mr. Miyagi" in the original "Karate Kid" feature films.

Once the screenplay actually reaches the "Battle of Midway", the motion picture uses a subtitle of the person's name to identify the actual combatants and recreates several true story lines that happened on the American side. Once the battle is finished, and "Yamamoto" realizing where the future is for Japan and calls back the fleet. The screenplay ends with "Admiral Chester W. Nimitz" walking with and speaking to, "Commander Joseph Rochefort", showing how important Charlton Heston's fictional role is over the actual "Battle of Midway", that the feature film is supposed to be about.
Nimitz suggests that Matt would have noted that Yamamoto "had everything going for him", and asked "were we better than the Japanese, or just luckier?"

Toshirô Mifune had a cameo role in a motion picture, re-released through funding provided by Quentin Tarantino, that David Fear, in an August 12, 2023 articleon "The Rolling Stone Magazine" website described as:

What’s arguably the wildest conspiracy thriller of the Me Decade, however, dropped right at the very tail end of it. Winter Kills takes the what-if scenario from Richard Condon’s 1974 novel — what if a Kennedy-like commander-in-chief had been killed by not one gunman, not two gunmen, but a plan involving a half dozen different parties — and pumps it full of nitrous oxide.

 WINTER KILLERS released on May 11, 1979

The screenplay was written by actor, writer, and director William Richert. Who directed this feature film. As a writer, Richert wrote the screenplay for the 1975 biography, "The Happy Hooker", starring Lynn Redgrave as New York Madame, Xavier Hollander. Along with 1976's, "Ace Up My Sleeve aka: Crime and Passion", starring Omar Sharif and Karen Black. As a director, Richert also directed, the River Phoenix, 1988, "A Night in the Life of Jimmie Reardon". 

Shifting to an article by Peter Sobczynski, on the "Roger Ebert" website, dated August 11, 2023, describing the films screenplay this way:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. In 1960, President Timothy Kegan, the handsome and popular scion of an enormously rich and powerful family, was assassinated by a sniper during a visit to Philadelphia. A federal commission convened to investigate the crime and concluded that it was the work of a lone gunman named Willie Arnold, who was killed a couple of days later while in police custody by a nightclub owner named Joe Diamond with alleged ties to Cuba and the Mob. While this conclusion raised many questions, it would be enough for many people, including Nick Kegan (Jeff Bridges), Timothy’s younger half-brother and the eventual heir to the entire Kegan dynasty.

Therefore, you can imagine his surprise when family factotum Keifetz (Richard Boone) arrives on the oil tanker Nick is currently working on with a nearly-dead man who claims he was one of two men who were hired to do the shooting and set up Arnold as a patsy, even offering up the Philadelphia location of where he stashed the rifle that did the deed. Nick assumes that the guy is a crackpot, but when he travels to Philadelphia, he finds the hidden rifle, although he winds up losing it in the ensuing confusion. He returns home to his family’s vast California compound to visit his estranged father, Pa Kegan (John Huston), and tell him of this discovery. Although initially dismissive, Pa agrees to help Nick uncover the apparent conspiracy behind Timothy’s murder and its subsequent cover-up, offering the use of the vast Kegan empire to help him along the way

Jeff Bridges portrayed "Nick Keagan".

John Huston portrayed "Pa Keagan", can you say "Joseph P. Kennedy?"

Richard Boone portrayed "Keifitz", described on the following photo as:

The operations chief of a far-flung financial empire. 

Besides the three actors described in the two above paragraphs, the motion picture had roles by other actors and actresses:

Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Keith", described on this photo as:

The Family's faithful oriental overseer


Eli Wallach portrayed "Joe Diamond", described on the photo as:
An Underworld Hit Man.

Anthony Perkins portrayed "John Cerruti".


Dorothy Malone portrayed "Emma Kegan"

Sterling Hayden portrayed "Z.K. Dawson".

Elizabeth Taylor portrayed "Lola Comante".

Returning to Japan, Toshirō Mifune appeared in two feature films and one television mini-series, and next found himself in Gold Beach, Oregon, to start filming a World War Two screwball comedy for director Steven Spielberg.

1941 premiered in Los Angeles, California, on December 13, 1979

As mentioned, the motion picture was directed by Steven Spielberg. His previous motion picture was 1977's, "Close Encounter's of the Third Kind". Spielberg would follow this feature film with 1981's, "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

The original story came partly from John Milius, as a writer he co-wrote with Francis Ford Coppola, 1979's, "Apocalypse Now". He also wrote and directed 1982's, "Conan the Barbarian", and wrote and directed 1984's, "Red Dawn", among other films since 1967.

There were two screenplay writers, Robert Zemeckis also co-wrote the story. As a writer, he co-wrote the three "Back to the Future" movies, and directed them. He also directed 1988's, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

Bob Gale also co-wrote this films screenplay and co-wrote all three "Back to the Future" pictures. Gale also wrote and directed the "Back to the Future" animated television series.

Dan Aykroyd portrayed "Sergeant Frank Tree". He had been appearing on "Saturday Night Live" since 1975 and continued through 2013. Immediately before this comedy, he was in 1979's, "Mr. Mike's Video", and followed this feature film with 1980's, "The Blue's Brothers".

John Belushi portrayed "Captain 'Wild Bill' Kelso". He was on "Saturday Night Live" since 1975, and followed this motion picture with 1980's, "The Blue's Brothers".

Above, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Christopher Lee portrayed "Captain Wolfgang von Kleinschmidt". Lee had just been in the made-for-television movie, 1979's, "Captain America II: Death Too Soon", and would follow this feature film with the 1980 comedy, "Serial". Just as Toshiro Mifune did motion pictures in the English language, Lee did many in Spanish, Italian, and German, but speaking those languages fluently, My article is "CHRISTOPHER LEE: Foreign Language Motion Pictures 1959 to 1970", at:

Toshiro Mifune portrayed Japanese submarine "Commander Akiro Mitamura". Prior to this motion picture, the actor appeared in a television series, 1979's, "Onmitsu doshin: Oedo sosamo", th updating of 1978's, "Edo no Taka: Goyobeya Hankacho", by one of the other series's directors. He would follow this American comedy with "二百三高地,(Ni hyaku san kochi)" aka: 1980's, "The Battle of Port Arthur".

Above, Toshiro Mifune, center, Christopher Lee, on his right.

If my reader looks at the above poster for the motion picture, they will read the great cast Steven Spielberg assembled for this comedy. I'm pointing out the two main comedians of the feature, that anyone familiar with "Saturday Night Live", at the time, would recognize. Along with the two main villains of the piece, who are portrayed by two great character actors of the time.

John Wayne, Charlton Heston and James Stewart were offered the role of "Major General Stilwell". We know the first two refused the role, because they felt the screenplay was unpatriotic and Wayne told Spielberg he was making fun of the American's killed in the Second World War. The role went to actor Robert Stack.

The movie has a reputation of being a financial loser, compared to both "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark", that bookended "1941", that might be said in comparing this film's box office to the other two Steven Spielberg films. However, the final budget for the picture was $35 million, and it made worldwide, $94.9 million.

The story has a Japanese submarine surfacing off of Southern California, on December 13, 1941, six-days after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's forces. On board is a German officer and the Japanese commander wants to impress him and the Japanese Emperor by attacking a major and very important United States mainland target, he chooses "Hollywood".

The submarine's compass malfunctions and they can't find Los Angeles, but when they spot land and send a party ashore. They return with a prisoner, a lumberjack named "Hollis 'Holly' Wood". The American's that go after the reported enemy submarine are at the minimal as dysfunctional as the submarine's crew. 

The climax comes when the Japanese submarine sinks a tank on a Santa Monica pier and the Japanese commander considers that an honorable victory to return to Japan and head home.

Below, Toshiro Mifune, 32-years-old Stephen Spielberg, and Christopher Lee

The following two paragraphs are from "Part One" of my look at the work of Toshirō Mifune.

In 1935, Japanese writer, Eiji Yoshikawa (吉川 英治Yoshikawa Eiji) wrote his novel, "宮本武蔵 (Musashi)". The novel was based upon the real-life, Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584 – 13 June 1645), a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer, and roin. 

In 1975, another author, James Clavell, wrote a novel that would be turned into a 1980, television mini-series co-starring Toshio Mifune. Like Eiji Yoshikawa, Clavell's novel takes place during the creation of the "徳川幕府 (Tokugawa bakufu)", "Tokugawa shogunate", 1603-1868. 

SHOGUN the five-part television mini-series premiered in the United States on NBC (National Broadcasting Company), September 15, 1980

James Clavell's, 1152-page novel, "Shogun", was published in 1975, and is the third novel in what is known as his "Asian Saga". The entire "Asian Saga" consists of 1962's, "King Rat", 1966's, "Tai-Pan", 1975's, "Shogun", 1981's, "Noble House", 1986, "Whirlwind", and 1993, "Gai-Jin". However, if my reader were to follow James Clavell's saga by the year the story takes place, "Shogun" becomes the first, with a setting in 1600, Japan. Next, would be "Tai-Pan", set in 1841, Hong Kong, "Gai-Jin", set in 1862, Japan, "King Rat", set in a Japanese Second World War prisoner-of-war camp in 1945, "Singapore", returning to Hong Kong, in 1963, is "Noble House", and finally, "Whirlwind", set in 1979, Iran.

All five-episodes, with a total running time of nine-hours-and-eight-minutes without the repeated opening credits, the recap of the previous episode and the preview of the next episode with closing credits, were written by the programs producer, Eric Bercovici. I previously mentioned Bercovici as one of the writers of 1968's, "Hell in the Pacific". I also mentioned that he wrote and produced his last television work, the 1988, four-episode mini-series version of James Clavell's, "Noble House", starring Pierce Bronson, Deborah Raffin, and Ben Masters.

"Shogun" was directed by television director and producer Jerry London. Who started by directing televisions "Hogan's Heroes" in 1969. Prior to this mini-series, London both produced and wrote for "The Partridge Family", "The Brady Bunch", "The Bob Newhart Show", and "Love American Style". Jerry London also produced and directed several made-for-television-movies.

Important Characters to the Story Based Upon Actual People:

Richard Chamberlain portrayed "Pilot-Major Blackthorne" aka: "Anjin-san". James Clavell 
based this character on the real English navigator, William Adams, (三浦按針 Miura Anjin ), who was the first Englishman to reach Japan in 1600.

Chamberlain had been acting on television since 1959, but it was portraying the role of "Dr. James Kildare" on televisions "Dr. Kildare", 1961-1966, that move him into television star status. However, it was three British motion pictures that broke the curse of television actor for Richard Chamberlain. 
He portrayed "Lord Byron", in 1972's, "Lady Caroline Lamb", and "Aramis" in director Richard Lester's two-part version of French author Alexander Dumas's, "The Three Musketeers", in 1973, and "The Four Musketeers", in 1974.

Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Lord Yoshi Toranaga-Lord of the Kanto Region". James Clavell based this character on "Tokugawa leyasu (Tatsudaria Takechiyo)", the founder and first "Shogun" of the "Tokugawa Shogunate". In 1983, the "Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) did a drama based upon a novel by Japanese author 山岡荘八,Yamaoka Sōhachi on the founding of the Shogunate.

Yoko Shimada (島田 陽子Shimada Yōko) portrayed "Lady Toda Buntaro - Mariko". "Mariko" is based upon Akechi Tama, but referred to as, 細川ガラシャHosokawa Garasha, part of the aristocratic Akechi family, during the Japanese civil war's Sengoku period. She was stopped from committing ritual suicide because of her Catholic faith. During the "Battle of Sekigahara", Hosokawa Garish was considered the hostage of Ishida Mitsunari, the leader of the Western Army. Hosokawa Garish died on August 25, 1600.

Frankie Sakai portrayed "Lord Kashigi Yabu". Actually, Honda Masanobu, in 1563, he joined the peasants in an uprising against Tokugawa leyasu, and fled from the Tokugawa. However, he rejoined in either the late 1570's, or early 1580's, at the request of Samurai "General Okubo Tadayo."

Nobuo Kaneko portrayed "Ishido Kazunari, Ruler of Osaka"
Castle". He is actually Ishida Mitsunari, also known by his "Court Title", (治部少輔  Jibu-no-shō). He was defeated in the "Battle of Sekigahara" and afterwards attempted to escape, but was caught by villagers and beheaded.

Damien Thomas portrayed "Father Martin Alvito". He is based upon, Jesuit priest, Joao Rodrigues Tcuzu, the adding of the word "Tcuzu", to his name, came from the Japanese 通事, Tsūji (The Interpreter), which he was in the screenplay.

Hideo Takamatsu portrayed "Lord Toda Buntaro". He is actually Hosokawa Tadaoki, whose first battle was at age fifteen. In 1580, Tadaoki married Hosokawa Garasha. During the 1590's, he became friends with Tokugawa leyasu and in 1600, sided with him against Ishida Mitsunari.

When there is an interpreter in the screenplay present, all the Japanese characters speak Japanese, and that character tells "Blackthorne" what they are saying. However, at key points actor Orson Welles provides narration.

The Very Basic Screenplay:

The first episode opens with the Dutch merchant ship "Erasmus" being piloted by an English navigator, a "Pilot-Major" named "Blackthorne", within a fierce storm. 

They have been at sea for months looking for the legendary "Japans", where they can become rich from trade. Most of the crew is dead and the captain is dying and it is up to "Blackthorne" to get them to land and safety. The survivors arrive off the coast of Japan and are taken prisoner by the samurai of the local warlord. Making matters worse for the Protestant crew the Catholic Jesuit priest "Father Sebastio", portrayed by Leon Lisseck, who looks upon them as heretics and not merchants looking to trade with Japan.

"Father Sebastio" accuses "Blackthorne" and the crew of the "Erasmus" as being "Pirates" over the protests of the "Pilot-Major". Who is at the disadvantage of not speaking, or understanding Japanese.

The Dutch crew and Englishman "Blackthorne" are put into a pit, initially without food, and are told that only one of them will have to be killed and the others will live. As to who will die is up to them to choose. 

The crew draws straws and the unlucky crewman starts up the ladder, that was placed into the pit, but a samurai is grabbed and falls into it to be ignored by his fellows. The samurai will go to one corner of the pit and sit silently. Eventually, the silent and praying samurai will be ordered to commit ritual suicide. 

"Blackthorne" is ordered out of the pit and finds himself before a Japanese merchant ship under the command of Portuguese navigator "Vasco Rodriques", portrayed by John Rhys-Davies. On the voyage, Protestant "Blackthorne"and  Catholic "Rodrigues" will develop friendship of navigators, not religion.

On land, "Blackthorne" will be taken away and finds himself in a communal prison style jail cell where prisoners await their name being called to be put to death. The "Pilot-Major" feels more alone, because none of the prisoners speaks his language, unaware that "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" having been made aware of "Blackthorne" put him there to keep the "Pilot-Major" out of the hands of "Ishido Kazunari, Ruler of Osaka Castle". After a short time, from across the room comes another man reacting to "Blackthorne's" English  language. He turns out to be "Friar Domingo", portrayed by Michael Hordern, who is overjoyed to find an English speaking prisoner and the two tell their stories to each other.

"Blackthorne" watches as names are called and men leave, but never to return. One day, his name is called, "Friar Domingo" gives him the last rites as "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne" walks to his expected death, but finds himself placed under guard instead. The "Pilot-Major" is escorted past people crucified, or executed by other means to an awaiting ship and "Rodrigues". They set sail for the port of Osaka and are engulfed in a fierce storm in which Englishman navigator ,"John Blackthorne", saves the life of Portuguese navigator, "Vasco Rodrigues", who starts to fall overboard, tells him to go to his cabin, and navigates the ship on the course the other had set and told him. 

The following morning "Rodrigues" comes out of his captain and thanks "Blackthorne".

The ship now arrives at Osaka and the two part their ways. "Blackthorne" goes to the home of the head worker and experiences a little culture clash, when he is given a bath by an elderly Japanese woman, the head man's wife. 

At the same time, "Rodrigues" reports to Jesuit Priest "Father Dell'Aqua", the head of all the Jesuit's in Japan, portrayed by Alan Badel. James Clavell's character is based upon Alessandro Valignano, the Naples born Jesuit, who was in charge of bringing the Catholic Church to Japan and China.

"Vasco Rodrigues" now presents, "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne's" sailing journal to the Jesuit Priest, that under "Father Dell'Aqua's" orders he had taken from the "Erasmus" without telling "Blackthorne". After "Rodrigues" leaves, "Father Dell'Aqua" tells the third person present, "Father Martin Alvito", that this journal holds information of great importance that must be kept away from "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" about the "Treaty of Tordesillas", more about the treaty shortly.

"John Blackthorne" now meets "Father Martin Alvito", who will escort him to "Lord Toranaga". At that first meeting, "Father Alvito" is to translate for "Blackthorne", but the "Pilot-Major" finds that at "Toranaga's" side is the "Lady Todo Buntaro". What is important to "Pilot-Major Blackthorne" is that she keeps whispering into her Lord's ear at certain times, she understands the English language. In fact "Mariko", as she is called, has been raised by the Jesuits and is Catholic. "Blackthorne" does not trust the Jesuit Priest and instructs him to translate exactly what he says, and "Father Alvito" replies that he has not changed a word. Over that exchange, "Blackthorne" notices that "Mariko" is whispering into "Toranaga's" ear and that the Japanese Lord understands the friction between the two men.

Later, "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne", now called "Anjin-san",  is brought before "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" and the "Lady Mariko", who will translate for both men. Using the sand in front of the porch like area that "Toranaga" and "Mariko" sit upon, "Blackthorne" explains the "Treaty of Tordesllias" to the Japanese lord.

"The Pilot-Major" now tells "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" that the treaty divided the non-Christian world between Spain and Portugal. Which placed Japan under Portugal and the reason that the Jesuits have come and are converting the Japanese people to Catholicism, like the "Lady Toda Bundaro". "Lord Tornanga" has finally found someone willing to answer his suspicions about the Jesuits. "Lord Toranaga" believes in the traditional Japanese way of life and is at odds with the Christian controlled Samurai Warlords such as "Ishido Kazunari". 

This becomes the start of an alliance, of sorts, between "The Pilot-Major" and "The Lord of the Kanto Region". Who although he tells people otherwise, wants to be "SHOGUN", the military governor of Japan until the young boy emperor comes of age. 

Another item that "John Blackthorne" added to "Toranaga's" lesson about the Jesuit's was their "黒船 (Black Ship)". In 1543, Portugal had established a trade route between Goa, on the southwestern coast of India to Nagasaki, a port city founded by the Portuguese on the Japanese island of Kyushu. The ship's name came from the fact the hull was painted with pitch. "Blackthorne" informed "Lord Toranaga" of the amount of Japanese goods sent back to Portugal, without the country's knowledge or payment, through these ships returning to Goa.

"Mariko" is assigned to teach "Blackthorne" the language and ways of Japan. Which is very much not to the liking of "Father Dell'Aqua's", who assigns "Father Martin Alvito" to watch him. 

"John Blackthorne" will become infatuated with "Mariko", and was it her, or her hand maiden that came to him one night? After "Blackthorne" approaches "Toranaga" about "Mariko" and is firmly told that cannot be, because she is already married. Her husband, "Lord Toda Buntaro", an expert with the bow and one of "Toranaga's" most loyal followers, is ordered to forgive his wife and rekindle their marriage. He will attempt it with the "Chanoyu Tea Ceremony", but "Mariko" refuses, revealing who her heart  now belongs too.

As of result of "John Blackthorne" informing him about the "Black Ships", "Lord Toranaga" instructs "Father Martin Alvito" to deliver a message to both "Father Dell'Aqua" and the new captain of the current "Blackship", "Captain Ferreia", portrayed by Vladek Sheybal. 

The message delivered is that:

Lord Toronaga requests a written explanation of our conquest in the new world. And, the amount of gold and silver taken back to Spain and Portugal from the Americas.

"Ferriera" considers the request from a "Japo" ridiculous and how dare him demand anything from the "Captain of the Black Ship". The captain's attitude toward "Lord Toranaga" concerns "Father Dell'Aqua", but it appears that "Father Alvito" may be enjoying watching "Captain Ferriera" squirm.

Meanwhile, "Lord Toranaga" must travel and attend a meeting at Osaka Castle, and is well aware of the intrigues that await him by the Catholic lords. "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne" now joins "Toranaga's" group that is under the guard of "Mariko's" husband and his men, "Father Alvito" rides with them, and attempts to make conversation with "John Blackthorne", as the fear of bandits holds sway over the ride. There will be such an attack, but who is behind it?

At Osaka Castle a meeting of the "Council of the Five Elders" is held, but "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" knowing that the Catholic Lords are under the control of the Jesuits, resigns from the council, making it impossible from any decisions to be made. He is also the guardian of the young emperor until he reaches 15-years-of-age and has his coronation.

The problem now facing "Lord Toranaga" is how to get out of the heavily fortified and guarded castle of his long-time-enemy, "Lord Ishido Kazunari". Where "Ishido" wants to keep him as a guest, aka: prisoner. "Mariko", her husband, "Blackthorne", "Father Alvito", and other ladies of "Toranaga's" court are about to leave. An elderly lady enters her carrier in full view of "Ishido" and the guards at the main gate. As "John Blackthorne" looks around the courtyard, he notices nobody is looking at the carrier as the woman quickly comes out and "Lord Toranaga" as quickly enters. The group now moves toward the main gate from Osaka Castle. At the gate, the officer in charge starts to approach the carrier now containing "Lord Toranaga" and starts to ask the occupant questions. "Blackthorne" quickly approaches and stops the questioning from happening and frustrates the Japanese speaking officer with his English comments, as if the officer should know what the "Pilot-Major" is saying. The ruse works and the frustrated officer lets the group exit the castle grounds.

For saving his life, because "Ishido" was planning for "Toranaga" to have a tragic accident, "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne" was made by "Lord Yoshi Toranaga", "旗本 Hatamoto (Guardian of the Banner)", a personal retainer. Additionally, "Blackthorne" was given a European flintlock pistol.

Later, at "Lord Toranaga's" outdoor encampment with "Blackthorne" and "Mariko" present, an earthquake takes places.

"Lord Toranaga" falls into an open fissure and starts to be buried, "Blackthorne" jumps in and unburies him. For again saving his life, "Lord Yoshi Toranaga" now promotes "Pilot-Major John Blackthorne" to SAMURAI. Presenting him a "大小, daishō (large and small matched swords)", 20 kimono,  200 of his own samurai, and an income producing fief, the village of Anjiro, where he was first taken to upon arriving in Japan. 

"Blackthorne" learns two things:

First, the crew of the "Erasmus" that have survived, after being freed, are now living with whores and have lost their sense of purpose, 

Second, the ship being guarded by "Lord Toranaga's" samurai was destroyed by a fire. This happened from a tidal surge knocking over the lit oil lamps one night, and the burned remains are beached near Kyoto.

There would be two more incidents revolving around Osaka"

The first had to do with the "Black Ship" and "Father Dell'Aqua". After conducting his business, "Toranaga" was leaving the port city at night to avoid attention. However, his galleon finds the exit to the Sea of Japan blocked by "Ishido's" armed men on small boats. He orders his galleon to come beside the ladder to the "Black Ship's" main deck. Next, "John Blackthorne" accompanies "Lord Toranaga", and the two go up the ladder to the main deck. There, they find not only the expected "Captain Ferrier", but "Father Dell'Aqua" and "Father Martin Alvito", who have also been watching "Toranaga's" galleon approach.


The two men also found on board the "Black Ship", its navigator, "Vasco Rodrigues". "Rodrigues" and "Blackthorne" leave the others and for the first time since arriving in Japan, "John Blackthorne" enjoys a European meal. However, the reason for "Lord Toranaga" going on-board the "Black Ship" was to acquire rifles to shoot at the blockaders. "Ferrier" has no problem providing the weapons and ammunition, but for a price. He wants "John Blackthorne" turned over to him so that he can execute the heretic. 

When "Blackthorne" comes back on deck, he faces "Captain Ferrier" and the "Black Ship's" Catholic crew. 

However, before anything can be done by the crew, "Vasco Rodrigues" accidentally, on purpose, pushes "John Blackthorne" overboard. Debt for saving his life, repaid. "Blackthorne" is picked up by "Lord Toranaga's" crew. They head for the blockade with "Samurai John Blackthorne" as the galleon's new navigator, while the others start shooting "Lord Ishido's" men. On the "Black Ship", "Captain Ferriera" orders a cannon aimed at "Toranaga's" galleon, but is stopped by the powerful "Father Dell'Aqua". Who now relieves "Ferriera", in the name of the church, of his command of the "Black Ship". The Jesuit Priest now appoints "Vasco Rodrigues" the ship's new commander as "Lord Toranaga's" galleon clears what's left of "Lord Ishido's" men.

The second incident at Osaka Castle takes play at night with members of the most deadly assassins in all of Japan, the "Amida Tong", crawling up the walls of Osaka Castle and enter it looking for their target, "John Blackthorne". However, "Lady Ochiba", portrayed by Atsuko Sano , steps out of her room, see the assassins and raises the alarm. The sleeping "Blackthorne" is awaken by the commotion and just avoids the assassin's blade to his throat. He kicks away the sword from the "Amida Tong" member's hand. The assassin now pulls out a hidden knife and considers how to finish the assassination, but three samurai come between him and "Blackthorne". So, the "Amida Tong" member kills himself with the knife.

"Lord Toranaga" and "General Hiro-matsu", portrayed by Toru Abe, rush into the room and the general finds the tattoo of the "Amida Tong" on the dead man's arm. The problem is who hired them? Three possibilities come to mind, starting with the "Daimyo of Izu", "Lord Kashigi Yabu", but it could also be the "Jesuit Priest Dell'Aqua" ordering the assassination without having the church seemingly involved. Then there is a third possibility "Lord Ishida".

As the search for other assassins continues, "Mariko" enters the room where "Blackthorne" is now by himself. Suddenly, there's an explosion caused by one of the assassins using black powder, and "Mariko" blocks "Blackthorne" from the main blast, but is killed instead. The explosion temporarily blinds the "Pilot-Major" who is calling out for her.

The person who hired the "Amida Tong" is "Lord Kashigi Yabu". He is forced to commit ritual suicide and asks "Samurai John Blackthorne" to be his witness. Before, "Lord Yabu" rips his stomach open, he honors "John Blackthorne" by presenting to him his 刀, かたな (Katana - Long Sword). "Lord Yabu's" nephew, "Kashigi Omi", portrayed by Yūki Meguro, becomes the new "Daimyo of Izu".

Orson Welles' narration now reveals, as "John Blackthorne" supervises the building of his new ship, "The Lady", that "Lord Toranaga" ordered the burning of the "Erasmus" to keep "Blackthorne" safe from his enemies, the Portuguese. For the same reason he will destroy "The Lady" and any other ship the Samurai builds. 

In the voice-over epilogue, Welles tells of "The Battle of Sekigahara", the defeat and death of "Ishido Kazunari, Ruler of Osaka", by first being disgraced and, next, buried up-to-his neck to die slowly. When the new Emperor of Japan asked "Lord Yoshi Toranaga-Lord of the Kanto Region", if he would become "SHOGUN"? Very reluctantly, "Toranaga" accepted the position.

Toshiro Mifune returned to both Japanese motion picture and television appearances through 1995, adding to acting legend. On December 24, 1997, Toshirô Mifune passed away, but his legacy remains.

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