Greatest Film Scenes
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Takadanobaba Duel (1937)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Takadanobaba Duel (1937, Jp.) (aka Chikemuri Takadanobaba, or Ketto Takadanobaba)

In directors Hiroshi Inagaki and Masahiro Makino's pre-war samurai comedy that was a remake of Daisuke Ito's earlier 1928 film (that only survived in fragments), and was re-released in 1952 with a title change as Kettô Takadanobaba:

  • the main character: Japanese ronin Nakayama Yasubei (Tomisaburo Bando (aka Bantsuma)), a drunken, lazy and vulgar samurai fighter without a master, who lived in lower-class dwellings (known as nagaya)
  • the stylistically-filmed, montage sequence of Yasubei's dash-to-the-rescue race to the side of his Uncle Rokuzaemon Sugano (Ryôsuke Kagawa), when summoned by letter to come to his assistance to fight in a duel against 18 enemies; the run with multiple pans was filmed with elaborate "flourishes" involving many graphic-match-on-action tracking or panning shots in three concurrent locations of action: (1) Yasubei's run, (2) his neighbors and supporters following along, and (3) the sword fight itself
  • the climactic battle sequence, a bloody duel (tachimawari) to the death at Takadanobaba, was filmed as a dance between the combatants; when Yasubei arrived at the scene of the duel, his uncle was cut down and tragically died in his arms as he wept over him, just as his neighbors and supporters arrived


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