by Steven Okazaki


I was eleven or twelve when I saw my first Toshiro Mifune movie at the Japanese Community Center in Venice, California. They had a noisy Bell & Howell running a 16mm print of Seven Samurai and turned the lights on for every reel change. It was projected onto a king-size bed sheet and every time someone opened the door, the screen would flutter and fly up and we’d grumble, “Shut the door!”

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Mifune: The Last Samurai, a new film by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, explores the accidental movie career of Toshiro Mifune, one of the true giants of world cinema.  Mifune made 16 remarkable films with director Akira Kurosawa during the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo

Together they thrilled audiences and influenced filmmaking around the world, providing direct inspiration for not only The Magnificent Seven and Sergio Leone’ A Fistful of Dollars starring Clint Eastwood, but also George Lucas’ Star Wars.
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By Gary Meyer

A dangerous rogue arrives in a village dominated by two warring criminal families and he quietly works for both.

Another more dashing rogue tries to protect a princess whose kingdom has been destroyed with the help of a pair squabbling sidekicks, one tall and one short.

Seven desperate renegades come to the defense of an equally desperate farming village to fight off a group of ruthless bandits.

We are not talking about movies starring Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach.

YOJIMBO mifune & kurosawa.jpg

Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa on the set of Yojimbo

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By Gary Meyer

Image result for Chaplin at essanayWe presented your picture entitled The Rink, featuring Charles Chaplin last night. Persistent laughter and shouting on the part of the audience brought down most of the house… We have been showing pictures many years without loss of life or damage to property. The Rink has proved a menace to real estate improvement, and the result of one day’s run has cost us considerable outlay in repairs. We enclose plasterer’s and carpenter’s bills. We would appreciate a check by return.'” Letter from the manager of the Princess Theatre in Ohio


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