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Shimura in 1956.
March 12, 1905
Ikuno, Hyōgo, Japan
|Died||February 11, 1982
Cause of death
|Other names||志村 喬|
Takashi Shimura (志村 喬 Shimura Takashi?, March 12, 1905 – February 11, 1982) was a Japanese actor, known for his appearance in 21 of Akira Kurosawa's 30 films, including as a lead actor in Ikiru (1952) and Seven Samurai (1954).
Takashi Shimura was born in Ikuno, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. His birth-name was Shimazaki Shōji （島崎捷爾）. He entered Ikuno Primary School in 1911 and Kobe First Middle School in 1917. He missed two years of schooling because of a mild case of TB, and subsequently transferred to the middle school in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, where his father had been transferred by his employer, Mitsubishi Mining. At Nobeoka Middle School, he became a star of the rowing club. In 1923, he entered Kansai University, but after his father's retirement the family could no longer afford the fees for a full-time course and he switched to the part-time evening course in English literature, supporting himself by working at the Osaka municipal waterworks. Among the teachers in the English Literature Department were the playwright Toyo-oka Sa-ichirō （豊岡佐一郎）and the Shakespeare scholar Tsubouchi Shikō （坪内士行）. Shimura joined the University's Theatre Studies Society and in 1928 formed an amateur theatrical group, the Shichigatsu-za（七月座）with Toyo-oka as director. He began to miss work because of the time he spent on theatrical activities and eventually lost his job. He then left university to try to earn a living in the theatre. The Shichigatsu-za turned professional and began to tour, but got into financial difficulties and folded.
Shimura went back to Osaka, where he began to appear in radio plays. In 1930 he joined the Kindaiza （近代座） theatre company and became a fully professional actor . He toured China and Japan with the Kindaiza, but in 1932 he left the company and returned to Osaka, where he appeared with the Shinseigeki (新声劇）and Shinsenza 新選座）troupes. Talking pictures were just then coming in and Shimura realised they would provide opportunities for stage-trained actors. In 1932 he joined the Kyoto studios of the film production company Shinkō Kinema (新興キネマ）. He made his film debut in the silent Ren'ai-gai itchōme （「恋愛街一丁目」）. The first film in which he had spoken dialogue was the 1935 Chūji uridasu （「忠次売出す」）, directed by Itami Mansaku （伊丹万作）. His first substantial film role was as a detective in Mizoguchi Kenji's 1936 Osaka Elegy （Naniwa erejii: 「浪華悲歌」）.
The film which established his reputation as a first-rate actor was Itami Mansaku's 1936 Akanishi Kakita (「赤西蠣太」:Capricious Young Man）. In 1937 he moved to Nikkatsu's Kyoto studios, and between then and 1942 appeared in nearly 100 films. His most notable role in these years was that of Keishirō in the long-running series Umon Torimono-chō （「右門捕物帖」）, starring Arashi Kanjūrō （嵐寛寿郎）. He also demonstrated his ability as a singer in the 1939 "cine-operetta" Oshidori uta-gassen （「鴛鴦歌合戦」: The Love-birds' Singing Contest）. During this time the political regime in Japan was growing ever more oppressive, and Shimura was arrested by the Special Higher Police （Tokkō）and held for about three weeks because of his earlier association with left-wing theatre groups. He was eventually released on the recognisance of his wife Masako and fellow-actor Tsukigata Ryūnosuke （月形龍之介）. He is said to have made use of this experience later when playing a Tokkō official in Akira Kurosawa's （黒澤明） 1946 No Regrets for our Youth （「わが青春に悔なし」: Waga seishun ni kui nashi.） Along with Toshirō Mifune （三船敏郎）, Shimura is the actor most closely associated with Kurosawa: he eventually appeared in 21 of his 30 fims. In fact, Kurosawa's cinematic collaboration with Shimura, from 1943 to 1980, started earlier and lasted longer than his work with Mifune (1948-65). Shimura's performances for Kurosawa included the doctor in Drunken Angel （「酔いどれ天使」, 1948）, the veteran detective in Stray Dog （「野良犬」, 1949）, the flawed lawyer in Scandal （「醜聞」: Sukyandaru, aka Shūbun, 1950）, the woodcutter in Rashomon （「羅生門」, 1950）, the mortally ill bureaucrat in Ikiru （「生きる」）, 1952）, and the lead samurai Kambei in Seven Samurai （「七人の侍」: Shichinin no samurai, 1954）.
Shimura appeared in Kurosawa's debut film Sanshiro Sugata (1943), and the last film of Kurosawa's in which he acted was Kagemusha (1980), for which Kurosawa specifically wrote a part for Shimura. However, the scene was cut from the Western release and so many did not know that he had been part of the film. The DVD release of the film by The Criterion Collection restored Shimura's footage.
Outside of his career working with Kurosawa, Shimura is probably best known for his roles in several Japanese monster films, including the scientist Kyohei Yamane in the first two Godzilla films (and the first to reprise the role before Raymond Burr in the English form of Godzilla and Megumi Odaka in the Heisei Godzilla films).
- Singing Lovebirds (鴛鴦歌合戦 Oshidori utagassen) (1939)
- Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
- The Most Beautiful (1944)
- The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
- No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
- Snow Trail (1947)
- Drunken Angel (1948)
- The Quiet Duel (1949)
- Stray Dog - as detective Sato. He won award for Best Actor at the 1950 Mainichi Film Concours. (1949)
- Boryōku no Machi (1950)
- Scandal (1950)
- Rashomon (1950)
- Elegy (1951)
- The Idiot (1951)
- Ikiru (1952)
- The Skin of the South (Nangoku no hada) (1952)
- Seven Samurai (1954)
- Godzilla (1954)
- Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
- I Live in Fear (1955)
- Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)
- The Mysterians (1957)
- Throne of Blood (1957)
- Zoku Aoi sanmyaku Shinko no maki (1957)
- The Hidden Fortress (1958)
- The Loyal 47 Ronin (Chūshingura) (1958)
- Storm Over the Pacific (1960)
- The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
- Yojimbo (1961)
- Mothra (1961)
- The Story of Osaka Castle (1961) as Katagiri
- Sanjuro (1962)
- Gorath (1962)
- Chushingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki (1962)
- High and Low (1963)
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Kwaidan (1964)
- Samurai Assassin (1965)
- Red Beard (1965)
- Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)
- Japan's Longest Day (1967)
- Zatoichi and the Fugitives (1968)
- The Sands of Kurobe (1968)
- Zatoichi's Conspiracy (1973)
- Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974)
- Ogin-sama Love and Faith (1978)
- Kagemusha (1980)
- Akai Unmei
- Stuart Galbraith IV (16 May 2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-4616-7374-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Takashi Shimura.|
- Takashi Shimura at the Internet Movie Database
- Takashi Shimura at AllMovie
- Takashi Shimura at the Japanese Movie Database (Japanese)