Toshiro Mifune has often been referred to as the Japanese Steve McQueen. But he was more than that. He had the swagger. The balls. The skillset. A true original, there’s never been anyone quite like him. He had it all.
In the ‘70s, he was to Akira Kurosawa what DeNiro was to Scorsese. What Clint Eastwood was to Sergio Leone. For years it has been said that Leone was heavily “inspired” by Mifune and Kurosawa’s collaborations for the making of his 1964 spaghetti western Fistful of Dollars, which launched his “Dollars trilogy”; and the film has widely been considered an unofficial remake of Kurosawa’s 1961 Yojimbo. So much so, in fact, that it resulted in a successful lawsuit by Yojimbo’s production company Toho. Kurosawa not-so-famously wrote a letter to the Italian director at the time, stating, “Signor Leone, I have just had the chance to see your film. It is a very fine film, but it is my film.”
Mifune and Kurosawa collaborated on 16 films. Together they created some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces with a massive impact on American and global culture. And indeed, many have been inspired by the legendary Japanese actor; his influence cannot be measured.
On-screen, his ability to be present was unparalleled. Off-screen, he had exactly the kind of cool but measured style we should all strive for.
On-screen, his ability to be present was unparalleled. Off-screen, he had exactly the kind of cool but measured style we should all strive for. Simple but considered. The style of a man who managed to come off both effortless and crisp, with genius in the details: a collar perfectly mussed under a v-neck knit, an oversized hem cuff, a sockless woven loafer, the minimal watch, a white floral tie against a white shirt. That dashing hair. Toshiro Mifune knew his way around a look, his style worthy of the icon he remains.