Let the stick decide


Early in John Ford’s YOUNG MR. LINCOLN, Henry Fonda drops a stick to decide which path to take in life.

Scene one of Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO, Toshiro Mifune throws a stick in the air to decide which route to take at a fork in the road.


Now, we know Kurosawa idolized Ford, so do we think this superficial similarity is a conscious homage/steal? I’m inclined to think so. YOJIMBO is Kurosawa’s most American film, since it adapts Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, and also steals a scene (the one with the giant sadistic thug) from the Alan Ladd film of The Glass Key (or from the book: I don’t remember the scene, but I expect it’s there).

Kurosawa kept a signed picture Ford had given him, and I think also wore a Fordian hat.

Ford to Kurosawa: “You really like rain, don’t you?”


4 Responses to “Let the stick decide”

  1. Bertolucci planned for many years on making a film of “Red Harvest” in the U.S. Marilyn Goldin was his screenplay collaborator. This was just before and just after The Conformist. But then Marlon and Maria came along and that was that.

  2. Marlon was going to be IN Red Harvest, with Jack Nicholson as the Op. The Missouri Breaks can be seen as a kind of remnant of this dream.

    My Northleach Horror collaborator Alex Livingstone has some very definite ideas of his own about how to do Red Harvest…

  3. I’d heard it was going to be jean-Louis Trintignant at first. Bertolucci always thinks first of Jean-Louis Trintignant (for Last Tango par example), which is appropriate as he is the greatest actor in the history of the cinema.

    Haneke has him now.

  4. I think we should stage an intervention to get him out of Happy Haneke’s clutches. The trouble is he’s outlived most of his best collaborators.

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