Yakuza The (1975): Sydney Pollack Directs Robert Mitchum

Sydney Pollack directed The Yakuza, a violent crime thriller, from a script by Paul Schrader (later a director himself) and Robert Towne (Oscar-winner for Chinatown and Shampoo).

The Yakuza stars Robert Mitchum, toward the end of his glorious career, as Harry Kilmer, a former soldier who returns to Japan to help rescue the daughter of his friend George Tanner (Brian Keith).

This yet another tribute to John Ford’s 1956 masterpiece, “The Searchers,” starring John Wayne and the young Natalie Wood as the kidnapped girl (by the Indians), a movie that has obsessed many directors of the film school generation, such as Schrader, who himself directed a similarly themed movie starring George C. Scott in 1980

Once there, Kilmer discovers that the daughter has been kidnapped by the Japanese mafia, called the Yakuza.

To battle the ruthless organized crime outfit and save the girl, Kilmer reluctantly enlists the help of his old nemesis, Tanaka (Ken Takakura).

The gifted director Pollack (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? The Way We Were, Tootsie) shows no affinity for and no particular skills for the crime genre

The film was later retitled The Brotherhood of the Yakuza, buth was a commercial flop in both versions.

Originally, it was shown in a 123-minute cut.


Running time: 112 minutes.

Directed by Sydney Pollack.

Written by Paul Schrader, Robert Towne

Released by Warner: March 19, 1975.

DVD: January 23, 2007