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The Yakuza

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The Yakuza Movie Book:
A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films
Year: 1975
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Sydney Pollack
Robert Mitchum ... Harry Kilmer
Takakura Ken ... Tanaka Ken
Brian Keith ... George Tanner
Richard Jordan ... Dusty
Kishi Keiko ... Eiko
Okado Eiji ... Tono
James Shigeta ... Goro

Plot synopsis: Harry Kilmer is hired by his old Army buddy George Tanner (Brian Keith) to go to Japan to rescue Tanner's daughter, who's been kidnapped by the Yakuza. While there, Harry reconnects with his old flame, Eiko, but finds complications and enemies on all sides.

Verdict: One of Mitchum's best films of the 1970s, with both a tender romance and plenty of ass-kicking for action fans.

Behind the Scenes: Mitchum had director approval on this film and chose Sydney Pollack over Robert Aldrich, who had directed Mitchum in the mediocre adventure flick, The Angry Hills. Pollack said of working with Mitchum, "I found him to be like a very, very powerful and lazy horse. He wants to walk as slow as possible and wants to get away with doing as little as possible. You used to really have to push him."

Things in Japan did not get off to a good start with Mitchum announcing, "Remember Pearl Harbor" at a press conference. Yikes! According to biographer Lee Server, Mitchum was approached by real-life Yakuza who offered Bob their help. "If anyone gets in your way while you're in Japan, just let us know. We'll cut him down."