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W.S. Van Dyke
As the Japanese sweep through the East Indies during World War II, Dr. Wassell is determined to escape from Java with some crewmen of the cruiser Marblehead. Based on a true story of how Dr. Wassell saved a dozen or so wounded sailors who were left behind when able bodied men were evacuated to Australia. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
DeMille, Technicolor, Cooper and Laraine Day...nice combo...
GARY COOPER is a dedicated Naval doctor during World War II tending to the wounded in Java where a shipload of men are wounded and expecting an attack by the Japanese. LARAINE DAY is the lovely woman he loves and who stands by him when the going gets rough.
The Technicolor photography is a big asset in making the war scenes more realistic and the men really look like damaged goods in their bandages and splints--two of whom are played by PAUL KELLY and DENNIS O'KEEFE. O'Keefe shares a wobbly, artificial sub-plot romance with a nurse (CAROL THURSTON) who looks after him. Ditto for SIGNE HASSO and ELLIOT REID. However, all of the scenes in the infirmary have an authentic look, thanks to DeMille's eye for detail.
The wounded men are full of high spirits and hi-jinks but Cooper is told that 60,000 Japs have landed in Java nearby and none of the wounded would have a chance to escape. It's up to him to devise a plan where he can help some of the wounded escape.
The action scenes are fine but there's too many lulls in between with clumsy use of flashbacks involving Wassell's romance with Laraine Day and some tediously repetitious scenes of wounded men suffering further wounds when the men try to make an escape with the aid of British troops.
Certainly not a typical Cecil B. DeMille vehicle, but Cooper gives a decent performance.
The running time is too long because the flabby screenplay is sidetracked by poorly handled flashback segments. The sub-plot with Dennis O'Keefe's character just doesn't work and the whole story takes too long to tell.
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