An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
Japan has just invaded the Phillipines and the US Army attempts a desperate defence. Thirteen men are chosen to blow up a bridge on the Bataan peninsula and keep the Japanese from rebuilding it. Written by
Opening credits prologue: When Japan struck, our desperate need was time - - - time to marshal our new armies. Ninety-six priceless days were bought for us - - with their lives - - by the defenders of Bataan, the Philippine army which formed the bulk of MacArthur's infantry fighting shoulder to shoulder with Americans. To those immortal dead, who heroically stayed the wave of barbaric conquest, this picture is reverently dedicated. See more »
Taylor shines in gritty war film...Robert Walker's debut...
BATAAN is one of the better war films to come out during the war years of World War II. Robert Taylor holds the whole gritty film together with his realistic depiction of a sergeant leading a small troop of men in an effort to hold back the Japanese attack by blowing up a crucial bridge. Taylor, Robert Walker as a gum-chewing homesick sailor, Lloyd Nolan, Dezi Arnaz (surprisingly effective in a dramatic role) and others make splendid contributions. Special mention should be made of Philip Terry's medic--an under-appreciated actor who is shown as committed to his job in a selfless way but finally going berserk under the pressures of war. (He had other good roles in Olivia de Havilland's TO EACH HIS OWN and Ray Milland's THE LOST WEEKEND).
The jungle setting (although filmed on the studio lot) is impressive with its exotic foliage and adds to the realism. The hand to hand combat scenes are well staged, as are the final moments of the film.
All in all, a gripping war film that more than holds its own with contemporary stories like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
Has to be appreciated in the context of its time--when flag-waving patriotism was at its peak and lines like "Those dirty Japs" were not considered politically incorrect.
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