“I am a person rarely impressed by actors… but in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed. The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression. Toshirō Mifune needed only three feet,” said Akira Kurosawa.

One of the greatest talents in cinema history, Toshirō Mifune left behind a staggering body of work amassing over 150 starring roles. Born on April 1, 1920, a retrospective was planned for 2020 timed to his centennial and now, after a delay due to the pandemic, it will kick off next week at NYC’s Film Forum. Featuring 35mm rarities and rediscoveries imported from the libraries of The Japan Foundation and The National Film Archive of Japan, the series will run for a whopping four weeks, from February 11 through March 10, and feature 33 films.

Ahead of the retrospective, we’re pleased to exclusively debut the trailer, edited by John Zhao, highlighting what is certainly the repertory event of the year. The series will include all of his 16 collaborations with Kurosawa, along with films by Mikio Naruse, Hiroshi Inagaki, Kajiro Yamamoto, Kihachi Okamoto, Terence Young, John Boorman, and more.

Watch the exclusive trailer below.

In anticipation of the retrospective, dive into our conversation on Toshirō Mifune’s career on The B-Side with Moeko Fujii, a NYC-based writer who provided this amazing essay for The Criterion Channel’s “Mifune At 100” Series. The discussion featured five lesser-known Mifune pictures, two of which are screening at the retrospective, Hell In The Pacific (1968) and Red Sun (1971), as well as Wedding Ring (1950), The Challenge (1982), and Shadow Of The Wolf (1992).

Check out the complete retrospective schedule below and get tickets here.


Japan, 1950

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori, and Takashi Shimura

Based on Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story “In a Grove”

Rape and murder in 12th-century Kyoto, as seen by four conflicting witnesses. Adapted from two stories by the great Ryunosuke Akutagawa, its worldwide acclaim (Venice Grand Prize, Best Foreign Film Oscar) vaulted an already-great-but internationally-unknown director and national cinema to world prominence. Machiko Kyō’s performance would land her a LIFE cover and, as the Bandit, Mifune goes beyond overacting into something so outrageous it could only be real. 

DCP. Approx. 88 min.

Friday, February 11 at 2:55, 7:10
Wednesday, February 15 at 5:35
Friday, March 4 at 3:50
Saturday, March 5 at 12:40
Wednesday, March 9 at 6:00
Thursday, March 10 at 12:40, 5:10


Japan, 1955

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Produced by Sōjirō Motoki

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura

70ish factory owner Mifune (then 35), obsessed with fear of the Bomb, demands his extended family move to the supposed safety of Brazil. Every device at Kurosawa’s command is enlisted to enforce the mood of oppression; with a desperate Mifune’s climactic speech equaling his legendary Seven Samurai monologue.

35mm. Approx. 103 min.

Friday, February 11 at 12:40, 4:55, 9:10
Friday, February 18 at 12:30
Saturday, February 19 at 2:50


Japan, 1955

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Miki Sanjo, Takashi Shimura

During surgery in a leaky tent at the jungle front, Dr. Mifune is infected with syphilis, then must decide what to do when he returns to an expectant fiancée back home. With Takashi Shimura as his doctor dad; and the opening operation scene a 21-shot tour de force. Kurosawa/Mifune’s rarest film, in a 35mm print especially imported from Japan. 

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 95min.

Saturday, February 12 at 1:00
Thursday, February 17 at 6:15
Friday, February 18 at 5:10


Japan, 1951

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Setsuko Hara, Masayuki Mori

Akira Kurosawa’s powerful adaptation of favorite author Dostoevsky. The triangle: Masayuki Mori the holy innocent “Myshkin;” Mifune the homicidal “Rogozin;” and Ozu’s loveable Setsuko Hara as the vicious “Natasha.” When the producers asked him to cut his 4½ hour original, Kurosawa famously replied “If you want to cut it in half, you’d better cut it lengthwise.” 

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 166 min.

Saturday, February 12 at 3:20
Sunday 13 February at 5:30
Thursday, 17 February at 3:00


Japan, 1954

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Katō, Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba

In 16th-century Japan, farmers under the heel of marauding bandits decide to hire ronin for protection; the odds: 7 samurai vs. 40 bandits; their pay: a few grains of rice. With Takashi Shimura as the calm leader, and Mifune as #7, transitioning from manic goofball to tortured, self-hating tragic hero, amid some of the most hair-raising battles ever shot. “No one has come near it.” – Pauline Kael. 

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 207 min.

Saturday, February 12 at 7:00
Friday, February 18 at 7:10
Monday, February 21 at 12:40
Thursday, March 10 at 7:15


Japan, 1950

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Shirley Yamaguchi

A successful painter and an attractive pop singer meet innocently at a mountain resort, but Amour magazine takes it from there, with an action for slander leading to Kurosawa’s only — and brilliant — courtroom scene. Mifune as the motorcycling artist has moments of hilarious deadpan humor, but the film is dominated by Takashi Shimura as the sometime lawyer and full-time slob.

35mm print courtesy Japan Foundation. Approx. 104 min.

Sunday, February 13 at 12:40
Monday, February 14 at 3:00


Japan, 1959

Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Yoko Tsukasa

Mifune’s 17th century samurai responds to jibes about his enlarged proboscis with witty haiku and slashing swordplay, then plays ghost writer for tongue tied Akira Takarada’s courting of Yoko Tsukasa, even though he secretly loves her himself. Sound familiar? Of course, it’s Cyrano de Bergerac, with Mifune alternately hilarious and moving — and his nose is the best yet, both physically believable, and well, kind of ugly — as called for in the text. 

35mm print courtesy of the National Film Archive of Japan. Approx. 111 min.

Sunday, February 13 at 3:00
Wednesday, February 16 at 7:35


Japan, 1949

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura

While a rubble-strewn Tokyo swelters through a torrid heat wave, awkward young white-suited detective Mifune finds to his shame that his pistol has been stolen — and that it’s been used in a murder. Thus begins his obsessive, guilt-ridden search, highlighted by a nearly 10-minute sequence shot by hidden camera in the city’s toughest black market. Kurosawa adapted his own unpublished novel for this, the beginning of the genre in Japan.

35mm. Approx. 122 min.

Monday, February 14 at 8:10
Friday, February 18 at 2:40
Sunday, February 20 at 12:40
Thursday, February 24 at 5:50
Wednesday, March 9 at 8:10


Japan, 1947

Directed by Senkichi Taniguchi

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura

On the run from their under-the-credits bank job, initially creepy Takashi Shimura and intimidating 27-year old Mifune (top-billed in his first film); hole up in a remote Japanese mountain lodge with the aging, unsuspecting proprietor, his granddaughter, and a marooned mountaineer. Vertigo and frostbite-inducing winter location shooting in the Japanese Alps. 

16mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 85 min.

Tuesday, February 15 at 12:40, 6:00


Japan, 1957

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Kyōko Kagawa

Gorky’s ensemble play about down-and-outs, transposed to 19th century Japan, in one of the greatest theater to film adaptations ever, with highly original interpretations including Mifune as a punkish thief. All too little known, this is one of Kurosawa’s finest works.

35mm. Approx. 125 min.

Tuesday, February 15 at 2:45, 8:00
Wednesday, February 16 at 12:40
Tuesday, March 1 at 5:40


Japan, 1957

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Isuzu Yamada

Macbeth transforms into a medieval Japanese legend, as General Mifune gallops through a seemingly endless forest to his encounter with a single witch, then, as dense fog lifts, finds himself before a looming castle. With the legendary Isuzu Yamada as his Lady, this is a partnership of titans.

35mm. Approx. 110 min.

Wednesday February 16 at 3:15
Thursday, February 17 at 12:40, 8:20
Sunday, February 27 at 12:40, 8:10
Sunday, March 6 at 9:05


Japan, 1956

Directed by Mikio Naruse

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Hideko Takamine 

Mifune as romantic lead? Every time hard-working wife Hideko Takamine (Floating Clouds, When A Woman Ascends the Stairs) raises enough yen for that coffee shop, her family scarfs it; but visiting bank loan officer Toshirō, here sharply dressed, may have the answer. The intensity of the chemistry between the superstars becomes, without a word or a touch, almost palpable. 

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 101 min.

Monday, February 14 at 12:40, 6:00

Monday, March 7 at 7:40


Japan, 1963

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai,  Kyōko Kagawa.

Shoe company exec Mifune is in the midst of a mortgage-everything takeover battle when the phone rings with a giant ransom demand for his son. Adapted from Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom, this is the ultimate kidnap movie, with the cops led by Steve McQueen-cool Tatsuya Nakadai; the money transfer aboard the Shinkansen (bullet train); and a jailhouse interview punctuated by the heaviest steel door closing in film history.

35mm. Approx. 143 min.

Saturday, February 19 at 8:00
Wednesday, March 2 at 2:30
Tuesday, March 8 at 12:40, 7:50


Japan, 1958

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara

Two constantly bickering and bumbling farmers on the run from clan wars are dragooned by superman general Mifune into aiding his rescue of fugitive princess Misa Uehara and her family’s hidden gold. Pure entertainment from the masters, acknowledged by George Lucas as the inspiration for Star Wars.

35mm. Approx. 139 min.

Saturday, February 19 at 5:10
Sunday, February 20 at 7:00
Tuesday, February 22 at 12:40
Saturday, March 5 at 7:10
Monday, March 7 at 3:00


Japan, 1948

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Reisaburo Yamamoto

Mifune’s greasily-coiffed “Jungle Boogie”-dancing gangster gets the bad news from alcoholic doctor Takashi Shimura — he’s got TB; and then the prewar boss returns. First collaboration of “the greatest actor-director team in film history” (David Shipman).

35mm. Approx. 98 min.

Saturday, February 19 at 12:40
Sunday, February 27 at 6:00
Monday, February 28 at 12:40
Tuesday, March 1 at 8:20
Wednesday, March 2 at 5:50
Thursday, March 10 at 2:45


Japan, 1965

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Yūzō Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Reiko Dan

In a 19th-century slum clinic for the poor, a gruff heavily bearded Dr. Mifune (Best Actor, Venice) straightens out an arrogant young intern and through his hardboiled warmth and stern compassion creates, instead of the usual “circle of evil,” rather a circle of good. Mifune’s last film for Kurosawa.

35mm. Approx. 185 min.

Sunday, February 20 at 3:10
Tuesday, February 22 at 3:30
Monday, 28 February at 7:45


Japan, 1958

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Izumi Yukimura, Michiyo Tamaki, Ken Uehara

Ultra-perky model Izumi Yukimura (a chart-busting singer off-screen) likes single freedom but feels that ryosai kenbo (“good wife, wise mother”) pressure, exemplified by her bored-to-tears sister, with Tatsuya Nakadai arriving late as a hip dreamboat, and Mifune, pricelessly cameoing (uncredited) for friend Okamoto’s first feature, as her acting teacher. 

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 84 min.

Monday, February 21 at 6:00


Japan, 171

Directed by Terence Young

Starring Charles Bronson, Alain Delon, Toshirō Mifune, Ursula Andress, Capucine

Left for dead by partner Alain Delon after their robbery of the Japanese Embassy’s train to D.C., Charles Bronson is forcibly recruited to help guard Mifune recover a priceless presentational sword. Then a classic double act across the desert, with cheerful rapscallion Bronson’s repeated escape attempts being foiled by stern straight man Mifune. For once Toshirō dubs his own English, to powerful effect in a speech on the end of the Samurai.

35mm. Approx. 112 min.

Wednesday, February 23 at 12:40, 6:10


U.S., 1768

Directed by John Boorman

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Lee Marvin

Both stranded on an unoccupied Pacific island, Yank Lee Marvin and Japanese Mifune (both actual WWII vets who hit it off great during shooting) keep fighting against each other, until… while speaking their own impenetrable (unsubtitled) languages. Two-man adventure story — stunningly shot in Scope on location on Palau in the Philippine Sea.

Digital. Approx. 103 min.

Thursday, February 24 at 12:40, 8:20


Japan, 1967

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Chishū Ryū, Takashi Shimura

Relentlessly paced and rivetingly accurate account of the day of the surrender, with fanatical middle-level officers trying to take over Tokyo and thwart even the Emperor’s wishes. Mifune as the War Minister dominates a gigantic cast, with the cinema’s most graphic seppuku as the dramatic and horrific climax.

35mm print imported from Japan, courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 157 min.

Tuesday, February 22 at 7:10
Wednesday, February 23 at3:00
Friday, March 4 at 12:40


Japan, 1965

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Koshiro Matsumoto, Yūnosuke Itō, Michiyo Aratama

1860; and while “snow seldom falls in March,” it’s coming down hard as progressive regent Naosuke Ii starts his heavily guarded daily procession, even as fanatical anti-shogunate samurai move in for their attack. Mifune’s fictional character, an often unsympathetic, embittered, wrong-headed loser, is arguably his most complex non-Kurosawa portrait. A tour-de-force in dynamic framing for the wide screen.

35mm print courtesy Japan Foundation. Approx. 122 min.

Wednesday, March 2 at 8:00
Wednesday, March 9 at 12:40


Japan, 1960

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kyōko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Takashi Shimura

Scandal-seeking reporters act as a chorus at the wedding reception for bespectacled pencil-pushing executive secretary Mifune and limping boss’s daughter Kyoko Kagawa, even as cops wait in the wings and in wheels a cake shaped like an office building, a single rose marking the site of a notorious suicide — or was it murder? And that’s just the first 20 minutes! Roughly Enron meets Hamlet, as scandal and ruin move inexorably up the corporate ladder.

35mm. Approx. 151 min.

Thursday, February 24 at 2:50
Sunday, February 27 at 3:00
Friday, March 4 at 8:20


Japan, 1967

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Yoko Tsukasa, Go Kato, Tatsuya Nakadai

Based on Yasuhiko Takiguchi’s short story, Hairyozuma shimatsu

Faithful retainer Mifune plays it his Lordship’s way, even when the lord decides to unload his mistress on Mifune’s son. But when their first child suddenly becomes heir, the lord wants her back. The built-up tension is orgasmically released in Mifune’s greatest one-against-all fight and then in a climactic final battle with reluctant pal Tatsuya Nakadai: “As exciting as any duel ever put on film.” – David Shipman. Kinema Jumpo Award for Best Japanese Film of 1967.

35mm. Approx. 128 min.

Friday, February 25 at 1:00, 6:00


Japan, 1960

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Kôji Tsuruta, Yôko Tsukasa, Seizaburô Kawazu

Exiled to a mobbedup town, cop Mifune befriends one oyabun, then sympathizes with another (Koji Tsuruta, Musashi’s final opponent) about his wife’s murder: against yakuza rules. But there’s a gang war coming, a tough choice, and a final twist.

35mm print imported from Japan, courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 95 min.

Friday, February 25 at 3:50, 8:40


Japan, 1970

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Shintaro Katsu, Ayako Wakao

Mifune squares off with Shintaro Katsu’s Zatoichi in the duel of the super-stars. Twentieth in the Zatoichi series boasts raucous comedy teamwork by the stars, ravishing widescreen color photography by the great Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Yojimbo), amid a typically complicated plot — craven gang boss, crooked silk merchant, and Mysterious Stranger vying with our heroes for a cache of embezzled gold. 

35mm print imported from Japan, courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 116 min.

Saturday, February 26 at 7:30
Thursday, March at 5:10


Japan, 2015

Directed by Steven Okazaki

Mifune’s life and career, as told through home movies, family photographs (dating back to his childhood in China; he wouldn’t step foot in Japan till age 20), rare archival footage (including some astounding scenes from otherwise-lost silent chanbara movies), and extensive interviews with Mifune’s family, friends, colleagues.

DCP. Approx. 80 min.

Monday, February 28 at 6:00

Wednesday, March 2 at 12:40


Japan, 1954

Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki

Starring Toshirō Mifune

Adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel, Musashi

Umpteenth life of the real (c.1584-1645) swordsman, artist, writer (Book of Five Rings) and ronin Miyamoto (here adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s 1930s newspaper serial-turned-novel). Mifune’s young rebel Takezo is captured and tutored by his village priest, and after several years becomes Musashi. Path-breakingly lush color photography. 

Digital. Approx. 93 min.

Tuesday, March 1 at 12:40
Sunday, March 6 at 2:45


Japan, 1955

Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki

Starring Toshirō Mifune

Adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel, Musashi

Mifune’s Musashi takes on an entire fighting school in a nighttime duel and Koji Tsuruta’s Kojiro Sasaki first appears. 

Digital. Approx. 104 min. 

Tuesday, March 1 at 3:00
Sunday, March 6 at 4:40


Japan, 1956

Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki

Starring Toshirō Mifune

Adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel, Musashi

Musashi and Kojiro pursue separate adventures, but end up at that final daybreak duel. Digital. Approx. 105 min.

Sunday, March 6 at 6:50


Japan, 1961

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Produced by Akira Kurosawa, Tomoyuki Tanaka and Ryūzō Kikushima

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai 

Wandering into a deserted village, scruffy and hungry ronin Mifune sees his chance to rake in the ryo as a yojimbo (bodyguard). And after checking out the sake merchant’s thugs squaring off against the silk merchant’s goon squad, twice as much, if he hires out to both sides. But there’s a final showdown with Tatsuya Nakadai’s pistol-waving, Elvislike Samurai killer.

35mm. Approx. 110 min.

Wednesday, February 23 at 8:30
Saturday, February 26 at 12:40, 5:10
Monday, February 28 at 2:45
Thursday, March 3 at 12:40
Tuesday, March 8 at 3:30


Japan, 1962

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Toshirō Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yūzō Kayama, Reiko Dan

Painfully sincere young samurai plan how to save the day in their clan’s power struggle, but they have to be straightened out and bailed out by grubby ronin Mifune, repeating his Yojimbo role, his final showdown with Tatsuya Nakadai coming to a startling conclusion. 

35mm. Approx. 96 min.

Saturday, February 26 at 3:00
Thursday, March 3 at 3:00
Tuesday, March 8 at 5:45


Japan, 1966

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman plying his craft during the turbulent final days of shogunate rule in Japan, Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse or mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. Kihachi Okamoto’s swordplay classic is the thrilling tale of a man who chooses to devote his life to evil.

35mm. Approx. 121 min.

Monday 21 February, 7:55

Wednesday 9 March, 3:10


Japan, 1969

Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Starring Toshirō Mifune, Shima Iwashita

1868. Stuttering former “village idiot” Mifune returns to his hometown resplendent in a borrowed officer’s red lion headdress, to announce their liberation by advancing anti-shogunate imperialist forces — but there’s a sting in the tale as slapstick farce turns to…

35mm print courtesy of The Japan Foundation. Approx. 115 min.

Friday March 4 at 6:00

Saturday, March 5 at 4:45

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