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Back Door to Hell (1964)

 -  War | Drama  -  November 1964 (USA)
5.3
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 457 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 9 critic

During WWII, a three-man commando team places its trust in the hands of a band of Filipino resistants, as they try to knock out a Japanese communication center.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jimmie Rodgers ...
Lt. Craig
...
Burnett
John Hackett ...
Jersey
Annabelle Huggins ...
Maria
Conrad Maga ...
Paco
Johnny Monteiro ...
Ramundo
Joe Sison ...
Japanese Capt.
Henry Duval ...
Garde
Ben Perez
Vic Uematsu
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Storyline

In December, 1944, three US soldiers sneak ashore on Luzon to gather intelligence about Japanese troops in advance of the American armada. The three are to reconnoiter and report via their shortwave radio. Lieutenant Craig may not have the stomach for killing; Jersey is a cynical sergeant; Bartlett is the radio man who also speaks Japanese. They're soon in touch with guerrillas, led by Paco, a tough, skeptical school teacher. The Japanese learn the Americans are in the area and take school children hostage until the Filipinos find, arrest, and turn over the GIs. Can this tiny squad make allies, save the children, get and transmit the information, and live to tell the tale? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It took courage to get to Luzon - and blood and guts to move every mile beyond!

Genres:

War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

November 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escapatoria al infierno  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A bicycle and a wheelchair were used in place of camera dollies on this film. See more »

Goofs

When the Filipino actors speak in their native tongue it is Tagalog but people around Lingayen Gulf speak Pangasinan, a different dialect. See more »

Quotes

Jersey: Yeah, we're all gonna die anyway - tomorrow, next week, 30 years from now. Did that little thought ever penetrate your thick skull?
Burnett: Yeah, once when I was a boy, but naturally I dismissed it as being too outrageous.
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User Reviews

 
BACK DOOR TO HELL (Monte Hellman, 1964) **1/2
18 July 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Hollywood has frequently (and variably) dealt with the WWII Pacific conflict: this is another such film, for which 'indie' director Hellman managed to secure the backing of a major studio, Twentieth-Century Fox (though the end result being just 69 minutes long, it was clearly sold as a 'programmer'). Anyway, Hellman's talent for introspection is even more evident (in an otherwise slightly-plotted effort) than before, with the emphasis on characterization (pertaining especially to the initial-distrust-which-develops-into-mutual-respect between the different races involved)...though the action, whenever the film resorts to it, is sufficiently well-handled.

Jack Nicholson co-stars as one of a trio of American soldiers who arrive by raft to the Philippines in anticipation of the imminent Allied invasion of Japan. Though good as always, and already displaying his chameleon-like abilities, the role (joker, radio operator and Japanese interpreter all rolled into one!) does not allow him to shine like he did in the simultaneously-shot FLIGHT TO FURY (1964), another Hellman collaboration. The chief reason for this has to do with the fact that the central figures here are Nicholson's conscientious superior (a youthful-looking but undeniably effective Jimmie Rodgers) and the dehumanized leader of the rebel army (imposingly played by Gerald Maga).

The third member of the outfit, then, is blood-thirsty John Hackett (who co-wrote the film!), while the locals also number among them a strong-willed girl who became attached to Maga after he lost his family during the early days of the war. The two units clash over the treatment to be accorded some Japanese officers they capture, but soon they are fighting them side by side: the Americans' radio having been rendered useless in a skirmish, the trio then decide to infiltrate the enemy camp in order to send word back home that their mission is accomplished. Caught in the act, however, Nicholson succumbs to a hail of bullets and, when the two groups eventually reconvene, the girl tells Rodgers that Maga has fallen as well!

Though reasonably impressive as a cinematic exercise, the general tone proves rather too low-key for the film to be properly gripping as a whole. Besides, the overall pace is decidedly leisurely (consequently feeling longer than its running-time would suggest!), while the overly familiar situations that unfold throughout do not exactly help make it a distinguished example within such a prolific genre.


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