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This is only the second Audie Murphy movie set in WWII after his autobiographical "To Hell and Back." Here Murphy steps out of his usual kid-Western role to play a civilian working for the Navy helping supply guerilla insurgents in the Philippines. His sole motive is not politics nor bravery, but to find his bride from whom he was separated during the Japanese invasion two years before. Written by
Although only 45 years since it was made, almost everyone associated with the "Battle AT (not of) Bloody Beach" (actors-writers-directors) has been dead for a while now. It is unlikely that this project was given a prominent spot in any of their obits.
I'm one of the unlucky few who paid to see this in a theater during its original summer of 1961 release. This type of low budget black and white junk was typical Saturday matinée fodder-although I think "Battle At Bloody Beach" was weak even by those standards. As a ten year-old who loved to play army the title was a real draw. We were driven to the theater by my friend's uncle who had us laughing the whole trip with funny variations on the title.
The trip to the theater was a lot more entertaining than the movie. There is a beach, Catalina Island impersonating a small island in the Philippines during WWII, but there is no blood-just some fake looking combat and "day for night" filming. The middle (65% of the total running time) of the movie showcases a long hike by an assorted group of civilians from one side of the island to the other.
The Japanese invaded the Philippines and other territories as part of their plans to create what they called a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Basically the idea was to expel foreign economic and military interests and to set up governments agreeable to Japan's plans for the region. Japan's industrial development was dependent on these areas for raw materials like oil, rubber, and iron ore.
The Japanese are essentially faceless and behave moronically (tactically and otherwise), about the same treatment Japan got in propaganda films made during the war.
There is a plot of sorts. Sgt. Marty Sackler (Gary Crosby) of the U. S. Army is living on a Japanese occupied island supplying Filipino insurgents with weapons to resist the Japanese occupation. Craig Benson (Audie Murphy), a civilian, comes to the island by submarine to set up a resistance network. He is also looking for his wife Ruth (Dolores Michaels) who he had to leave behind when he evacuated the place at the start of the war. Meanwhile she has fallen for Alejandro Rey who seems to be some kind of revolutionary insurgent.
This is an incredibly lousy film which is rarely shown, so it should be easy to avoid. If you are forced to watch just be glad you are not a 10-year-old who just blew part of his meager allowance for a ticket.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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