Donald Richie, an American writer best known for his analyses of Japanese cinema and its postwar directors, died today at a Tokyo hospital. He was 88. Richie and Joseph Anderson published in 1959 what is considered the first English-language book on Japanese movies, The Japanese Film: Art And Industry. In his memoir, the New York Times reports Richie paid his first visit to a Japanese studio in the 1940s, where where he met a director in a white floppy hat and “someone I guessed was a star … in a loose Hawaii-shirt.” Thus began Richie’s decades-long relationship with Academy Award-winning director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune. Richie went on to write several books on Kurosawa and also wrote English subtitles for several of Kurosawa’s films including Kagemusha (1980). Richie also has written analyses of the work of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story) and provided audio commentaries for The Criterion Collection on DVDs of various classic Japanese films, notably those of Ozu (A Story of Floating Weeds and Early Summer). Richie’s other audio commentaries include the work of Mikio Naruse (When A Woman Ascends The Stairs), and Kurosawa (Drunken Angel, Rashomon, The Lower Depths, and The Bad Sleep Well).
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