Stray Dog (film)

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For the 1991 film by Mamoru Oshii, see Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops.
Stray Dog
Nora inu poster.jpg
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Sōjirō Motoki
Written by Akira Kurosawa
Ryūzō Kikushima
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Takashi Shimura
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography Asakazu Nakai
Edited by Toshio Gotō
Yoshi Sugihara
Shintoho / Eiga Geijutsu Kyōkai / Toho
Distributed by Toho
Release date
  • October 17, 1949 (1949-10-17)
Running time
122 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Stray Dog (野良犬 Nora Inu?) is a 1949 Japanese police procedural film noir directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. The film is considered a precursor to the contemporary police procedural and buddy cop film genres.[1]


The film takes place during a heatwave in post-war Tokyo. Rookie homicide detective Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) has his Colt pistol stolen during a trolley ride. He chases the pickpocket, but loses him. Filled with shame, he reports the theft at headquarters. He prowls the city backstreets undercover for days, looking for suspects and picking up leads. He eventually picks up the trail of a gun racket.

When the stolen gun is used in a crime, Murakami partners up with the veteran detective Satō (Takashi Shimura). After questioning a suspect, Satō and Murakami end up at a baseball game looking for a gun dealer named Honda. He points them to Yusa, a disenchanted war veteran who has resorted to crime. They investigate Yusa's sister's house and his sweetheart, showgirl Harumi Namiki (Keiko Awaji), to no avail.

The questioning of Namika: Keiko Awaji (right), Eiko Miyoshi, Toshiro Mifune (standing), Takashi Shimura (sitting)

Murakami's gun is used again, this time as a murder weapon. They question Namiki at her mother's house. She is still reticent to talk, so Satō leaves to investigate Yusa's trail, while Murakami remains behind. Satō comes across Yusa's last hideout. He places a call for Murakami, but, just as he is about to reveal Yusa's location, the criminal makes a run for it. Satō gives chase, but is shot in the rain and left for dead. A desperate Murakami arrives soon enough to donate blood to his friend at the hospital.

The following morning, Namiki has a change of heart and informs Murakami at the hospital that she had an appointment with Yusa at a train station nearby. Murakami races to the meeting and deduces who Yusa is from his mud spattered clothing. He pursues his quarry into a forest and is wounded in the arm, but manages to take Yusa into custody. Back at the hospital, Satō has recovered and congratulates Murakami on his first citation. Murakami reflects on Yusa's plight and on the parallels between him and the criminal. Satō tells him to forget about Yusa and get ready for the cases he will solve in the future.



Black-and-white image of two men facing the left of frame, walking in front of a brick wall. A bold series of vertically striped shadows covers the entire image. The middle-aged man to the right wears a white fedora, a medium-dark suit, and an open-collared white shirt. In front of him, to the left of the image, a younger, taller man wears a cream-toned suit, a white beret and shirt, and a light striped tie. Each man holds a pistol in his right hand.
Stray Dog contains elements associated with film noir and was a precursor to the buddy cop film genre.

Kurosawa mentioned in several interviews that his script was inspired by Jules Dassin’s The Naked City and the works of Georges Simenon.[2] Kurosawa wrote the script with Ryūzō Kikushima, a writer who had never written a script before.

During the opening credits, there is footage of a panting dog. However, when American censors saw the footage, they assumed that the dog had been harmed. This run-in with American censors caused Kurosawa to remark that this was the only time he wished Japan had not lost World War II.[3] The film released in the U.S in 1963.

Despite being one of Akira Kurosawa's most critically renowned postwar films, Nora Inu was once not held in such high regard by the director himself. Kurosawa initially said that he thought little of the film, calling it "too technical" and also remarking that it contains "all that technique and not one real thought in it." His attitude had changed by 1982, when he wrote in his autobiography that "no shooting ever went as smoothly," and that "the excellent pace of the shooting and the good feeling of the crew can be sensed in the finished film."[4]


Stray Dog holds a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.9/10.[5]


The film was remade in 1973 as Nora Inu, starring Tetsuya Watari as Murakami and Shinsuke Ashida as Satō. The location was changed from Tokyo to Okinawa.[3] It was remade for television in 2013.[6]


At the 1950 Mainichi Film Concours it won awards for Best Actor (Takashi Shimura), Best Film Score (Fumio Hayasaka), Best Cinematography (Asakazu Nakai) and Best Art Direction (Sō Matsuyama).

Keiko Awaji as Harumi Namiki the showgirl


  1. ^ "FilmInt". Film International. Sweden: Kulturrådet. 4 (1-6): 163. 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2012. In addition to being a masterful precursor to the buddy cop movies and police procedurals popular today, Stray Dog is also a complex genre film that examines the plight of soldiers returning home to post-war Japan. 
  2. ^ "DVD Review of Stray Dog by Gary Morris". Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b "Stray Dog: Trivia". IMBd. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Stray Dog: Kurosawa Comes of Age". Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  5. ^ "Stray Dog (Nora inu) (1963)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Nora Inu". Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. 

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