Today marks exactly 65 years since August 12, 1950 when Tetsu of Jilba, written by Akira Kurosawa and Goro Tanada and directed by Isamu Kosugi, was released. The film, which has since more or less faded into history, was based on stories by Tokuzō Kajino.
Quite little information is available about Tetsu of Jilba (ジルバの鉄 in Japanese). It would seem, however, that it was written as a response to the success of 1949’s gangster film Jakoman and Tetsu which Kurosawa penned with his at the time frequent collaborator Senkichi Taniguchi, who also directed the film. The 1949 film did very well at the box office, no doubt at least partly due to Toshirō Mifune starring in the main role of Tetsu, a young fisherman who rises up to confront a criminal by the name of Jakoman, played by Ryūnosuke Tsukigata who had appeared in both of Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata films. Other former and future Kurosawa regulars also make appearances in the 1949 film.
In contrast, Tetsu of Jilba appears to have been a more modestly sized and received production, although it was certainly not made without acting talent as veteran actor Utaemon Ichikawa took the top billing, while Takashi Shimura also appeared in the film. It was actor-turned-director Isamu Kosugi’s eighth film as a director in little over two years since the beginning of his directorial career that would last until 1965 and cover almost seventy films. He also appeared in close to two hundred films as an actor.
Both films were based on stories and characters by Tokuzō Kajino (sometimes credited as Shinzo or Keizo Kajino, real name Masayoshi Kajino) who at the time was an up-and-coming author, winning and being nominated for numerous literary awards.
Tetsu of Jilba is very much unavailable on any home video format. Below is the only screenshot that appears to be available online. You may have to take out your magnifying glass for it!