The Quiet Duel

A man’s desire is

challenged when infected with

an awful disease


Toshiro Mifune stars in The Quiet Duel from 1949, another team-up with Akira Kurosawa.  It tells of a doctor who, during World War II, is infected with syphilis during a field camp operation on a soldier with this disease, when his finger gets cut.   When he gets home from the war and starts working in his father’s clinic (his father played by Takashi Shimura), he has to reject his fiancée who has already been waiting years for him to commit to a date.   This is obviously to protect her but she, innocently unaware of why he is rejecting her, is determined to get an explanation.   His father, when he first finds out, is ashamed of him thinking his son has been with other women and disloyal to his fiancée and the stigma of having syphilis is even clearer.  While this is going on, the patient who he contracted syphilis from appears in town by coincidence, and seems to be a little bit too relaxed about his condition, eventually causing harm to his own family despite the doctor’s repeated warnings (he had also warned him before he left the army that it can be passed even through saliva, never mind sex), even telling him the truth that he has it himself and contracted it from him during the war-time operation.

Only at one time does the doctor complain angrily about the situation because he is conflicted in his mind between fulfilling his natural male desire for the woman he loves and doing the responsible thing, being not just a man (a very handsome one too – my addition) but a doctor responsible for the health of others (the quiet duel), a very emotional scene, the end of which shows his striking sense of professionalism.    This is a very understated performance for Mifune and shows his wide range.    I’d definitely recommend it.




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