The Akira Kurosawa Movie Mystery



The Akira Kurosawa Movie Mystery was the thesis topic I chose as a student at the
University Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh, 30 years ago.

I had the honor and privilege to study Japanese cinema with the late Dr. Keiko McDonald. She was my thesis advisor and mentor. She employed me as a Teaching Assistant on the university payroll. I would sometimes fill-in and teach her class when an emergency called her away. I assisted her with the technical outline of the continuity script for her volume of critical studies Ugetsu: Kenji Mizoguchi, director.

At the Eli Lilly Library, Indiana University, I researched the John Ford Manuscripts collection. The Library of Congress Motion Picture Division and East Asia collection in Washington, D.C. were valuable resources.

My research uncovered something that was not supposed to be general public knowledge. I was advised to wait an appropriate period of time before publishing my thesis. That was 25 years ago.

Japanese follow a belief called giri. Giri is a sense of obligation, duty, honor, courtesy, decency - part of the social compact that holds society together. We discussed giri in class when Keiko-sensei screened The Yakuza, (1974) a film by Sydney Pollack. Sensei had a high regard for this film, the plot of which contemplated the meaning of giri.

Other memorable film studies include The Films of Stanley Kubrick with Dana Polan at Pitt
Cinema Interruptus courses with Roger Ebert on Vertigo and Casablanca
at the University of Colorado Conference on World Affairs

My writing teachers at Pitt were Lee Gutkind and the late Bruce Dobler.

It was my giri to wait two decades to tell this story.


University of Pittsburgh University Honors College 1991
Bachelor of Philosophy summa cum laude
Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude
Certificate Asian Studies

Major: Japanese Language and Culture

One of seven students to earn the prestigious Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1991.

Thesis for the Bachelor of Philosophy degree:
The Akira Kurosawa Movie Mystery: John Ford, 'Shichinin no Samurai' and The Rearmament of Japan
Research examined the influence of John Ford and how propaganda and psychological warfare were employed in post-war Japanese cinema to manipulate public opinion to support remilitarization of the country.

Thesis Advisor: Prof. Keiko MacDonald
Chair, Examining Committee: Prof. Richard Smethurst
External Examiner: Prof. David Desser, University of Illinois

Recipient of Nippon Sheet Glass Corp. Scholarship for Excellence in Japanese Studies.

Letters of Recommendation from:
G. Alec Stewart, Dean, University Honors College
Keiko McDonald, Associate Professor of Japanese Cinema and Literature
Nancy Caplan, Academic Advisor