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 ... See full summary »
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.
Rick Leland makes no secret of the fact he has no loyalty to his home country after he is court-marshaled out of the army and boards a Japanese ship for the Orient in late 1941. But has ... See full summary »
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
The Call Bureau Cast Service lists Lynne Carver and Dorothy Morris as "Nurses", but they were not identifiable in the movie, although one nurse is seen from the rear and another in long-shot. Also Richard Derr was said to be a cast member and Mary Elliott a "Nurse" in contemporary news items; they also were not seen in the movie. See more »
A scream after a head shot during a fall is highly unlikely. Especially since the old World War I style helmets gave almost no protection from projectiles. See more »
Closing credits epilogue: So fought the heroes of Bataan. Their sacrifice made possible our victories in the Coral and Bismark Seas, at Midway, on New Guinea and Guadalcanal. Their spirit will lead us back to Bataan! See more »
Actually it's a kind of remake of John Ford's "Lost Patrol" only this time in the jungles of the Bataan peninsula. A mixed group of men with varied background are pinned down by the enemy and picked off one by one in colorful ways.
Characters and incidents are out of a comic book. This is not a subtle movie. If you want a greater dose of something resembling reality, try "Pride of the Marines" or "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" or "They Were Expendable." This is the kind of thing that passed for uplifting entertainment in 1943. But, given the usual strictures of the genre and the times, it's fairly well done. The shooting was done in a studio and looks it. The model work looks like model work too. But, again, if you don't expect too much in the way of authenticity it's engaging. The plastic bushes and the layer of studio-generated fog give the film an eerie reality of its own.
To be engaged, though, you must put up with things like there being no question of pulling out or surrendering. We fight to the last man. And there is a brutal battle towards the end in which both sides charge with bayonets. We litter the ground with Japanese dead while they manage to kill only two of our men. We shoot them, grenade them, bayonet them, strangle them, stab them, and the air is filled with flying body parts, all Japanese.
The Japanese are referred to as "Japs," "baboons", "monkeys" (twice), "rats", and "animals" (in case we hadn't got the point yet). If they capture one of our guys they "work him over good" before putting him out of his misery.
There's a certain historical truth in much of this. Bataan was an exhausting conflict. American and Philippine troops defended the peninsula until forced to surrender, and many of them died from wounds, illness, and malnutrition. If I recall, the Japanese, under General Yamashita, were in almost as bad a shape. And of course the infamous death march to the prison camps doomed many of the captives. A good number of the victims were from a unit formed near Deming, New Mexico, where a small memorial has been built.
There is nothing much worth saying about the acting. Not much acting is called for. The black soldier has a terrific baritone. Robert Walker turns in a nice performance as a wimpy sailor/musician, although he too is allowed to kill a number of enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. Thomas Mitchell doesn't come across as a Jake Feingold. Desi Arnaz is one of those non-native speakers of English who use a lot of jazzy lingo when they talk. (Amusing.) Loyd Nolan is the most interesting character and gives by far the most droll performance. "That really bothers me, what you think." The best that can be said for Robert Taylor (b. Spangler Arlington Borough) is that he doesn't get in the way of the scenery. He began his career at MGM in the 1930s as a handsome leading man. As he grew older his features coarsened, as features will, but MGM kept him soldiering away in epics and ever cheaper features. His acting didn't change much.
There's a curious and coincidental aspect to the casting here. Of the men in the patrol, three are San Franciscans: Barry Nelson, Loyd Nolan, and Philip Terry (the medic). One of those random juxtapositions whose likelihood can only be pinpointed by use of the Poisson distribution. After all, San Francisco has always been a small city, at the time these actors were born, probably no more than 500,000. The reason Loyd Nolan sounds like a New Yorker is because so many New Yorkers came to San Francisco in the 19th century and settled in the Mission District, as part of what sociologists call a chain migration. You can still hear the remnants of that New York accent in elderly San Franciscans today.
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