is a 1963
film directed by Akira Kurosawa
. It was loosely based on King's Ransom
, an 87th Precinct police procedural
by Evan Hunter
(written under the pseudonym
High and Low
is a play in two acts. The first act tells of an executive named Kingo Gondo (Toshirō Mifune
) who mortgages all he has to stage a leveraged buyout and gain control of a company called National Shoes, with the intent of keeping the company out of the hands of its other executives. Gondo disagrees with the executives over the direction of the company. One faction wants to make the company a modern mass market low quality manufacturer while the founder of the company tries to keep it conservative with good quality. Gondo believes he can split the difference by making high quality modern shoes. Then he learns that his son has been kidnapped. Gondo is prepared to pay the ransom, until he learns that the kidnappers have mistakenly abducted the child of Gondo's chauffeur, instead of his own son. The kidnapping occurs in parallel with the corporate buyout drama and Gondo is forced to make a decision about whether to pay the ransom or complete the buyout. His position is exposed to the other executives when his top aide betrays him to protect himself. Finally, after a long night of contemplation and pressure from his wife and the chauffeur, Gondo decides to pay the ransom. This decision essentially seals his fate as the other executives now have the power to vote him out of his directorship. Interestingly, this move ends up making Gondo into a national hero while the National Shoe Company is vilified and boycotted.
The second act follows police procedure as they put together clues to find the ransom money, and the kidnapper. It is revealed that the main kidnapper is in fact a medical intern at a nearby hospital, whose sole motive is his hatred for Gondo which stems from jealousy. His apartment is directly under Gondo's significantly larger house on an overlooking hill, one of the many hints of the film's title throughout the film.
As the kidnapper gets rid of his accomplices by causing them to overdose on drugs, the detective hatches a plot to catch him when all seems lost. The detective lures him out of hiding by pretending that his accomplices survived his attempt to dispatch them. Gondo and the kidnapper finally meet face to face at the very end, and motives and feelings are examined.