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In the spring of 1942, following the blockade-run that took General Douglas MacArthur and his staff from the Philippines to the safety of Australia, the survivors of a bombed-and-sunk PT Boat make their way to shore. The skipper tells his men they have top priority passes if they can make their way to Del Monte airfield 200 miles away, and advises them to split up into pairs. Ensign Chuck Palmer and crewman Jim Mitchell finally reach Tacloban on the island of Leyte. In an American mission school, Palmer meets Jeanne Martinez, who is urgently trying to see the officer in charge with a request for help for a relative, and he also learns that the Japanese have captured the airfield. Palmer tries to make Australia by a boat that sinks in a tropical storm and has to swim for shore. All through 1942, Palmer and the other survivors dodge enemy patrols while living off of the land. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In several scenes, but especially the firefight in the church, many of the Japanese soldiers are carrying .30 caliber Springfield 1903 and M1917 Enfields - both standard U.S. Army issue in WWI and the early days of WWII. While it could be that the Japanese were using captured equipment, it would not make logistical sense to carry rifles with a different caliber then their standard issue 6.5 mm Arisaka Type 38 rifles. See more »
Not a bad movie, really. Colorful, exotic locations, educational, some interesting combat scenes. But coming from the director of "Metropolis" and "M"?
It reminds me of an anecdote told by the psychologist who wrote "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti." That's a psychiatric hospital in Michigan. Three patients claimed to be Jesus Christ. The psychologist was watching a film with the one named Louie. Adlai Stevenson, then Governor of Illinois, appeared on the screen. "That's me," cried Louie, "I'm Adlai Stevenson." The psychologist replied, "I thought you were Jesus Christ." "I am," said Louie, "I'm Jesus Christ too -- but I've got to make a living."
Fritz Lang must have had some similar motive for making this rather routine war film. It has every cliché in the book. The romance thrown into the middle of the muddle. The cavalry riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The acting of the principals is at par, but some of the bits are played by people who seem to have had no training in inducing a suspension of audience disbelief.
The best scene in the film has Tom Ewell (in an uncommonly dramatic part) trying to hide from the Japanese under a rotting log. His bare feet are on an ant hill and soon his skin is crawling with stinging ants while he bites his tongue and prays.
The best performance is given by the Japanese officer. He's great. Sinewy, dapper, ruthless, ironic. Speaking to Michelline Presle, who has been aiding the guerrillas -- "You rike Americans with WHITE FACES, like boiled pork." Marvelous line. (That bleached skin, like blue eyes, is an evolutionary anomaly confined to northwestern Europe.) The guy is fascinating to watch physically, in the way that Jack Palance is.
Minor error. Ty Power and Tom Ewell are reporting on the position and movements of two Japanese destroyers (actually, they look like Geary-class American ships). Power gives the info on the ships to Ewell next to him, who relays it by phone to a radio operator who encodes and transmits it. But the operator isn't sending information on the location of the ships. He keeps sending the word "news" over and over, interspersed with a couple of letter "b"s.
It is not, as I say, a bad movie. It's just done rather by the numbers. A far better job dealing with our defeat in the Phillipines was done by John Ford in "They Were Expendable." This film is worth watching as a description of the very real guerrilla movement that developed in the Islands after that initial defeat.
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