Akira Kurosawa's Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail was put together at the last minute when Kurosawa's plan to direct a costume picture called Doko Kono Yari fell through (the producer couldn't get any horses!) Utilizing the costumes, sets and actors already commissioned, Kurosawa spent one long evening writing a screenplay based on the old Kabuki piece Kanjincho. The central character, a dimwitted porter who almost causes the film's plot to go awry, was played by Enoken, a stage actor and longtime personal favorite of Kurosawa's. Originally titled Tora no o o fumu Otokotachi, Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail was impressive enough for English-filmmaker Michael Powell to request permission to remake it on a larger scale (he never did). Completed in 1945, the film was not generally released until 1952.
by Hal Erickson synopsis