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Kurosawa playing golf with Misa Uehara

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    Vili Maunula

    Well, not really playing golf but I suppose rather practising at the range. Anyway, I thought that this tweet was a fun photo and something that I had personally never seen before:

    Anyone know what Kurosawa’s golf handicap may have been?

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    Ugetsu

    Thats a great photo! I would not have recognised her from that picture.

    I’ve always been curious about her career, after such a promising start, she seemed to have just given up on acting. I wonder if there is a story behind that.

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    Patrick Galvan

    This is a nice photograph, one I’d also never seen before. One post-Hidden Fortress film of Uehara’s I’ve been curious to see is a 1959 title called One Day, I…, directed by Kihachi Okamoto, in which Uehara played the leading role in a modern-day drama. Everything I’ve seen her in thus far has either been a period/mythological film like The Three Treasures (1959) or a war film like Desperado Outpost (1959). Seeing her tackle a character in a contemporary setting would be interesting.

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    Ugetsu

    Ah, so many films that are so hard to locate. It is so frustrating that with the low cost of modern streaming its become harder if anything to find older films to watch than in the days of DVD’s (I really miss my amazing local DVD rental place, they were amazing at finding obscure films).

    I guess I’m curious about her because the ‘official’ story about being discovered (its on her imdb page) doesn’t ring true to me. Would Kurosawa really choose a lead actress based on a tip off on someone having seen a girl in a cinema? It sounds like the sort of PR story cooked up by film publicists. I have to say that although she intrigues me, I do think she was a weak link in the film and seemed a little out of her depth, although it must obviously have been very hard for a newbie surrounded by a crew of such experienced scene stealers.

    I wonder if her ‘retirement’ at 23 was down to just marrying some rich dude, or whether she realised that she had got lucky early on and would be better getting out while still on a roll. Or whether something else happened. There is something about rambling through imdb histories that raises all these questions for me.

    Which reminds me, I need to go study my Japanese more so I can do proper searches through Japanese language sources….

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    Patrick Galvan

    Well, now this is funny. That bio on IMDb is actually a bio that I myself wrote — except I didn’t write it for IMDb. I wrote it for my own stomping grounds, Toho Kingdom. It appears someone with editing capacity at IMDb took what I wrote and then copy-and-pasted it into their own site without credit.

    As for the story of Misa Uehara’s discovery, that account of her being found in a Toho-owned theater is backed up in Stuart Galbraith IV’s Kurosawa-Mifune biography The Emperor and the Wolf. I don’t remember off the top of my head where Galbraith got that information (I’d have to check his citations), though it is certainly possible the studio’s PR department, Kurosawa, or Uehara herself exaggerated it to make it sound more exciting. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time a studio dressed up a narrative to make it more promotion-friendly. One of Uehara’s later movies, The Three Treasures (1959), was publicized as Toho’s 1000th production. I seriously doubt it actually was — it was probably just in the general neighborhood of 1000 — but it was good advertizing to bill it as such.

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    Vili Maunula

    That bio on IMDb is actually a bio that I myself wrote — except I didn’t write it for IMDb.

    That’s annoying when it happens, Patrick. Then again, considering the quality of Toho Kingdom, I would imagine it’s not the first time.

    Galbraith’s references for the events leading up to Uehara’s casting are liner notes from the 1993 Japanese laserdisc release of the film and a German program for the film from the late 1950s.

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    Ugetsu

    Oh, that is interesting!

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