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Like an old cinematic friend - where's it been all these years?
Bobs-924 May 2005
I was really delighted to see the DVD of "Beach Red" in a video store last week, and of course I immediately bought it. I see that several commentators here have said something like "where did this come from, and how come I never saw it before?" Indeed, it's become something of a rare film over the years. I saw it in 1967 with my uncle, who was a World War II veteran who served in Europe. I was about 14 then, and its style, which was strikingly progressive for that time, made a deep impression on me. To me it seemed moody and dream-like, and it's been so long since I saw it, or even any discussion of it, that I almost felt as if I had dreamed seeing it in the first place. I was bowled over by it at the time. My uncle didn't care for it, as I think he expected a more traditional war film. He was one of those "sees things in black and white" types of guys, and though he didn't bother to explain it to me, I think the internal monologues, flashbacks, sexual encounters, and humanizing of the enemy in a war film just didn't wash with him.

Now, close to 40 years later, I finally saw it for a second time. I can see some clumsiness in the characterization and dialog that didn't strike me way back then. But I can also see why it seemed so audacious in 1967 as well. From my perspective, this was the first of what I would consider a "modern" war film that I experienced, and as such I tend to regard it as sort of a landmark. I can appreciate it more now as a pure ANTI-war film than I could back then, when it just struck me as strange, exotic, and titillating both for its sexual content and graphic violence. Just like the Sergio Leone spaghetti-westerns made traditional American westerns seem old-hat overnight, I could never look at traditional war films with the same eye again after seeing this back in 1967. I'm very glad to make its acquaintance again after all these years.
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Where'd This Come From?
askroll-16 August 2003
I can't imagine this movie escaping my notice, as I'm something of a war-movie buff but this was a new one to me. First of all, the violence is shocking. This movie does not conform to what Paul Fussell (A WWII veteran) has described as Hollywood's sanitizing of combat. Men's limbs come off. People bleed out after getting stabbed. You are made to care for the soldiers on both sides. You witness seppuku (ritual disembowelment). It's an utterly unorthodox take on Pacific-island combat, replete with unbelievably accurate on-screen ordnance. Flamethrowers, mortars, chattering water-cooled guns. It's harrowing and deeply touching, reminding the viewer how wasteful but ultimately necessary it may be to kill fanatics. Awesome. The flashback scenes are weird; the lock-down focus zooms are quite strange but somehow appropriate. The combat footage is indistinguishable from actual War Department stuff. Indeed, a cameraman plays a key roll. The fact that there is a not a sanitized ending merely strengthens this movie, in my opinion. Being a US Marine has never been easy, I would guess. But taking an island defended by soldiers who would die to a man is even tougher. It humanizes the war; puts a face on it. Then part of that face is blown off. I've never seen anything like it. It's more "Band of Brothers" than "Saving Private Ryan" and, given the context of 1967, even more amazing. A must-see.
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amolad2 April 2001
This masterful, beautiful picture by the underknown and underrated Cornel Wilde is a haunting look at the combat experience. Depending on one's point of view, Terrence Malick either paid tribute to it or blatantly copied it in THE THIN RED LINE (1998). The movies are amazingly similar in the way they use flashbacks and voiceover narration (as characters' thoughts spoken aloud) to immerse the audience in the characters as they fight. I love both movies -- Malick's has things going for it that Wilde's doesn't, such as a physical beauty and a superb score -- but BEACH RED is in some ways the more powerful of the two. It's even more immediate. The voiceovers are less forced and don't really go into the philosophizing that the voiceovers in THIN RED LINE do. The effect is to keep the audience more focused on the combat itself. In short, BEACH RED is more emotional (whereas THIN RED LINE is emotional AND philosophical/metaphorical).

The way this movie opens with 30 minutes of pure combat on a beach is also similar to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In fact, BEACH RED is something of a combination of that movie and THIN RED LINE. Spielberg and Malick surely must both have studied this picture carefully. The last 5 minutes of BEACH RED comprise one of the most haunting and powerful statements on combat I have ever seen. This is a movie that will leave you thinking for a long time.
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Just saw it-fascinatingly good and strange
rich-10627 April 2003
Wow, I thought I saw all the war movies. This a unique captivating war film with several unusual techniques. It has voiceovers by soldiers in the middle of combat and flashbacks to past scenes and still photos of loved ones at home. For instance, one soldier learns the password for the day is "darling" and reminices(sp) about his wife calling him that. All this occurs in-between and during brutal battle scenes some of which are hand to hand combat with bayonets. The Japanese soldiers are also shown with loved ones and to be human as well. The American flashbacks seem odd since the family members are dressed and groomed in 1950-60s fashion during this WWII movie but gave the movie kind of a universal quality. There is also some mild nudity and delicate sexual references in the flashbacks that some will detect. Watch when one of the soldiers builds a "woman" in the dirt and kisses her or Wilde's wife Julie panting in bed. One disappointment is that we never learn the fate of Columbo, whose thumb gets shot off, and the bleeding soldier he reluctantly carries on his back. Listen to the amazing detail on the litany of natural insect and plant dangers in this island jungle. The Japanese speak Japanese in this movie without subtitles yet we can understand what they are taking about. I could go on with more. Better then Saving Private Ryan for sure and it looked like much material was taken from this film for that one. 8/10
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A Beautiful, Tragically Honest Look at Warfare
SgtSlaughter10 May 2005

Rarely does a low-budget film make a major impact on one's life. If one watched "Beach Red" and walks away unaffected, then I must say the fault lies with the viewer – not the film. With haunting images and unflinchingly honest dialog, director Cornel Wilde drops a great big bomb on the audience.

"Beach Red" tells a straightforward story of an American Marine company which assaults a Pacific island, held by fanatical Japanese troops. The main characters include Captain MacDonald (Cornel Wilde), a former lawyer who hates the war he's forced to fight, and loves his wife and simply wants to return home. He struggles with holding the lives of men in his hands and being responsible for their deaths. Sgt. Honeywell (Rip Torn) is a career soldier, whose only goal is to kill Japanese and get his platoon through the war alive. Pvt. Cliff (Patrick Wolfe) is a minister's son who is not prepared for the horrors of war; and his only friend, Pvt. Egan (Burr de Benning), is an uneducated southerner who spends his free time flashing back to sexscapades. Rounding out the group is Colombo (Jaime Sanchez in a non-stereotypical performance), an insecure, somewhat cowardly veteran who chooses to conceal his fear with excuses to avoid criticism.

Wilde fleshes out these character using two rare techniques: the first involves brief flashbacks, often told with still frames shot in surreal colors, set to soft, soothing music while the character in question narrates the action. Characters may be conversing, but they're really talking to the audience. Each of the leads also has a number of voice-overs, which put the viewer inside their head. These voice-overs are simple and match the way a character would talk out loud; unlike the 1998 version of "The Thin Red Line", in which voice-overs were deeply philosophical, these thoughts are haunting and simple. Wilde uses the same techniques in scenes involving the Japanese, which breaks down the barrier between the "good guys" and "bad guys". These are just ordinary men on both sides of the battle line, involved in a war they don't want to be fighting. Yes, there is definitely an enemy, but they are not demonized and stereotyped as in other war films of the period. The Japanese are a formidable, foe, yes – but ordinary men with lives and families just like the main American characters.

Wilde uses color cinematography ceaselessly and perfectly. The opening beach assault takes place on a sunny day, and characters bleed and die on a beautiful tropical beach and, later, in the middle of a lush jungle. The atmosphere doesn't appear deadly at first, and it's quite sad to see war ravaging and destroying such a stunning landscape. The combat sequences are superbly staged. The first half of the film focuses on an inch-by-inch assault on the beach, encounters with snipers and machine-gun nests. Wilde fills the screen with action at all times. Even though the focus is on one or two main characters, we can always see dozens – often hundreds – of extras in the background. As they crawl through tall grasses, we can hear rustling and heavy breathing. Men scream in pain when they get shot and the dialog is often lost amidst the deafening roar of explosions. All of the actors look like soldiers in the middle of a pitched battle: they wade through chest-deep water with forty-pound rucksacks and don't wear any makeup. They're genuine soldiers in the middle of a genuine battle. The on-location shooting in the Philippines really gives the battle scenes a look of authenticity not often found in similarly-themed films of the same time period.

Wilde doesn't sanitize the graphic nature of war, either. Unlike many films of the 1960s, he uses graphic violence quickly and shockingly to help illustrate his themes. Quick, graphic moments are used only to shock and are not dwelt on or eulogized. One character has his arm blown off on the beach and we see a close-up of him staggering about in a delirious stupor, bloody stump gushing and severed limb lying on the ground. Close-ups of bayonet and knife stabbings are also pretty gruesome. There's another, tense scene in which the American infantrymen must storm a bunker complex and use flamethrowers to drive out the Japanese within; the aftermath is more-than-effective. These shots of death and destruction are shocking and rapid; then the focus moves on. Wilde makes his point with one or two frames, a line or two of dialog, or just a facial expression. He doesn't need to dwell on it. We get the message.

Wilde's film is a moving statement about the futility of warfare. The final foxhole scene, in which two enemies sit wounded facing each other and share cigarettes and water as they lay dying, is poignant without being an overstatement. The pain and sadness on each character's face is real as they realize that the only difference between them is skin color and uniform. At heart, they're both innocent kids, caught up in a conflict they don't want to be in. They should be at home with their girlfriends and families, not sweating, bleeding and dying in the midst of an inconsequential tropical island.

"Beach Red" is simply one of the great unknown war films. The ensemble cast never misses a beat, the battle scenes are grim and expertly staged, and the scenery is captured perfectly. This is easily the best fictional film about an island campaign to date, and one of the best war films ever made.
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Great under-rated WWII film
McStallen12 October 2005
This movie is just starting to get released to the mainstream. If you like WWII films and find it at a cheap price, buy it- you won't be disappointed. It's the Castle Keep of the Pacific- only it makes a little more sense This is a great quasi-anti-war movie that was created during the earlier stages of the Vietnam war. Though it focuses on the American forces, it gives pretty fair treatment to the Japanese soldiers. The music and the dialogue is great, and the action is decent.

I really like Rip Torn as Sgt Honeywell in this. I'm used to him playing the tough old guy Arty in The Larry Sanders Show. Arty acted like a tough guy, but he was old and I think everyone knew he was soft. BUT he is much younger here, and tough as nails- an intimidating character- his justification for fighting the Japanese and breaking both arms of a prisoner is bad-ass -"I'm a kill 'em, I'm a stab 'em...." Cornel Wilde plays the lead officer- pretty similar to Staros in The Thin Red Line- but he's solid The climax is a bit contrived and perhaps too overly-melodramatic, but it's fine for its time

My two knocks- there is a bit too much stock footage in the beginning, and the two main NCOs are boring backwoods idiots
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There are 100 'Ryans', but only one of these.
D-4211 June 1999
This is a strange, moving and beautiful film. It bears a great ressemblance to the 98 Thin Red Line,( down to the colour of the tall grass and racial/social background of the officer )and yet they're both from novels by different authors. This is presumably a tribute by Malick.

What puts this film in very select company is its attitude to its subject. By its elegant use of stills, flashbacks, repetition and multiple voice-over it shatters the lie of the boys-own adventure and invites us to consider the combat as part of life. If in our experience of life someone takes to slaughtering someone else, it gives us pause for thought.

Accordingly, the usual overheated so-called 'dramatic' plot where everything is subjugated to the 'who wins?' question is replaced here by something subtler, reflective, one side certainly wins, but this occupies our thoughts little compared to feelings about what these men are engaged in.

I'd love to know the tradition this film springs from, it's not a a satire like 'Dr Strangelove'and it doesn't have the psychological portrait of 'Full Metal Jacket' thought it does have echoes in the later half of that film. The immediacy of the combat scenes is like the end section of 'On The Fiddle' with Sean Connery.

Beach Red looks with a rare, cool gaze at the war, this allows us to feel the emotion that is there. What a shame that Spielberg is too frightened to pay us that respect, instead the crass manipulation of fodder such as 'Ryan' stiffles the expression of any thought or feeling.

So it's great that they made Beach Red (and The Thin Red Line ) so that we can see there's more to the world!
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One of the Best Combat Movies of All Time
zpzjones14 April 2004
First, let me ask, why isnt this available on video or dvd here in the States? They have it in Britain & Germany! Nevertheless Im glad to see this film making the rounds on Showtime and it's satellite cousins. I agree with previous posters that Spielberg 'HAD' to have watched this great film from the great Cornel Wilde, who incidentally plays the captain here. I originally watched this back in the 1980s on HBO and it, usually for years after, showed up on TNT during Memorial Day Weekend. But in the past few years I hadn't seen it until lately with these few Showtime airings. But back to the movie. Long before I had ever seen Saving Pvt Ryan I had just read the reviews of it. When the reviews talked about the opening sequence being extended pure assault, I knew that someone watched or knew of Beach Red. Both SPR & BR open in an almost identical fashion of pure armed violence. The only difference is the locale of the two pics. SPR on the beaches of Normandy and BR in a distant south pacific isle.

Beach Red covers a platoon from it's assault on a Japanese held beach, through the occupation of the island and finally to many of the members of Wilde's platoon losing their lives. This is bittersweet because we are taken, through flashback, to some instant in these soldiers personal lives. Wilde doesn't stop there. He also flashbacks the Japanese soldiers lives as well. This is great and considerate filmmaking as it humanizes boths sides, US & Japanese, withstanding the brutality of armed combat. This pic, unlike for instance 'The Longest Day', is filmed in rich colour. With the addition of colour in a war film this further personalizes the tragedy Wilde & his men have to go through in killing and staying alive. War is just as deadly on a bright and sunny day as it is on a gloomy or rainy type day. But Beach Red would have been a still very effective film had it been made in black & white.

For War Film buffs, I think many will be stunned by this movie when and if they have not seen it. It's always been a sort of low key picture undeservedly but thanks to home video & cable a couple of new generations will discover this unheralded classic. Wilde should have been very proud of his achievement in Beach Red, both as director & actor. And his supporting cast of the great Rip Torn as the gruff Sergeant and Burr DeBenning as the well meaning Yokel-Bumpkin are pure delight. A fine film from a fine cast. View it.
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Not A Great Film But A Very Influential One
Theo Robertson23 March 2013
No one can accuse Cornel Wilde of being a subtle film director . BEACH RED shows the same flaws that made the film version of John Christopher's novel NO BLADE OF GRASS a memorable movie for the most bizarre reasons . That novel didn't contain any environmentalist subtext or agenda but Wilde decided to batter the audience to death with a pollution is bad kids message . He also used strange directorial techniques that felt that they belonged in an entirely different movie . In this movie that was made three years previously Wilde has a similar sledgehammer approach which works slightly better but even so you'll remember this film due to its storytelling more than its actual story

From the outset you can see BEACH RED is a war film with a difference but tries just a little too hard . It has cinematic art-house pretensions but possibly not the budget and probably not a cerebral enough director to pull off the ideas presented . That said Wilde does deserve some credit for making what is effectively a B movie in to something that sticks in the mind . It also be judged against the context it was made . The Hays Code was still in place but Wilde has tried to push the boat out as to what he can get away with and it's relatively sadistic and graphic for a movie during this period . Likewise the Vietnam War was escalating and throughout the narrative there's a strong element that just because the enemy is not from a WASP nation it doesn't necessarily make them evil because the enemy is still human

It's impossible to mention BEACH RED without mentioning later , better , more critically acclaimed films namely APOCALYPSE NOW , THE THIN RED LINE and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN . The extensive use of voice-over whether it relates to the nature of war , profound existentialism or merely hoping to get home in one piece along with the imagery seen here has had a very clear influence on Coppolla , Malik and Spielberg . Malik especially has taken the ideas presented here and made them more effective in THE THIN RED LINE which critics described as " an interesting failure " . Perhaps BEACH RED deserves the same dubious backhand compliment ?
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Excellent war film, similar to Private Ryan
FilmFlaneur3 September 2005
A fair screen performer, Cornel Wilde occasionally appeared in more interesting fare, such as the cult B-noir The Big Combo (1955), a title held today in greater esteem these days than his other mainstream successes. Of greater interest still is Wilde's career as a director that, with the tense drama of Storm Fear, started the same year as Combo. Although not a fully mature work, it still suggested some of the themes that would inform Wilde's later films: a concern with man confronting the elemental, whether externally or internally, and a fondness for extreme situations.

From the mid 1960s onwards Wilde made a remarkable trilogy of work in quick succession: The Naked Prey (1966), Beach Red, and No Blade Of Grass (1970), which are the films upon which his directorial reputation rests principally today. Each concerns a journey of one sort or another, in which men must differently face up to the primitive impulse within themselves as the comforting supports of civilised society stripped away. Thus in The Naked Prey a European is pursued by relentless natives across a bleak African wilderness. In No Blade Of Grass a party of English refugees and survivors have to navigate a post-catastrophe landscape. Beach Red sees soldiers face up to their innermost fears and regrets during the bloody battle for a Pacific island. Typically in Wilde's work, a stricken or unforgiving world reflects back the straits in which the main characters find themselves whilst any final resolution is, at best, ambivalent. In Beach Red this environment is lush and dangerous, full of both natural and human perils (at one point the director gives a litany of killer flora and fauna), but one where the greatest threat to man is Man himself.

Some critics have compared Wilde's cinema to that of Sam Fuller. Both forge personal cinema with an own, urgent vision. Fuller is the more assured stylist, with his tabloid-inspired contemplation of events. Wilde, too, often wears his message unashamedly on his sleeve - most obviously in the weaker No Blade Of Grass, or in some of the regretful soliloquizing of Beach Red. Like Fuller, Wilde produced and directed, but also scored and acted in two out three of his best works. (He's also heard as the narrator in the present film, and performs a similar function as a radio voice in No Blade Of Grass). Beach Red was the only one he also co-wrote, which leads one to think it had particular interest for the director. Unlike Fuller, Wilde never served in the armed forces. And unlike Fuller's war movies, Wilde's single martial opus is distinguished by its even-handedness. While the gritty realism and hard-wrought bravery of Wilde's soldiery is never in doubt the same, just, eye is applied to both sides.

The humans in uniform place the blame for the ensuing cruelty and pain not, as a rule, on individuals but on a wider commitment to duty, outside of any immediate questioning. When a soldier is guilty of any unnecessary cruelty, such as the Sergeant who breaks both the arms of a dangerous Japanese prisoner to subdue him, Captain MacDonald condemns the action outright. "We must never forget why we are killing...". In all of his major films Wilde's world is often cruel and hard - but never sadistic, his main characters determined, never cynical. MacDonald, John Custance, or the unnamed runner of The Naked Prey, do not manipulate others, but only try and survive, making the best of a bad world. (A difference in worldview that explains why Fuller made a string of excellent noir films while Wilde only made one.)

Those who have seen Saving Private Ryan will feel right at home here, and not just with the painful introspection of MacDonald as he struggles with duty. (Others have felt the flashbacks and narration anticipate Malick's The Thin Red Line, 1998.) Here, too, we see men dying in the water during a beach landing, pinned down beneath murderous machine gunfire, eviscerated, half burnt by flame throwers. Limb parts float in the water, while the young warrior 'Mouse' stands in horror, his arm ripped from his side. It's no romanticised version of war and the ending of Beach Red is less compromising than Spielberg's that, catering to different tastes, felt compelled to offer. More than in No Blade Of Grass, Wilde feels free to indulge in stylistic tricks and methods to achieve the peculiar dream-like intensity which accompanies combat experience, using stills, visual distortions, voiceovers and flashbacks. These highlight the interior life of his characters, some of these 'internalised' moments being almost as explicit and powerful as dynamic scenes elsewhere, such as during one of MacDonald's sensual reveries about his wife, when we see her presumably on the point of orgasm. There's sexual content too in the conversations between Private Egan (Burr de Benning) and minister's son Private Cliff (Patrick Wolfe), including at one point fantasising over a woman's torso fashioned from coconut shells and soil.

Memories of sensuality provides nostalgia for the soldiers. But Beach Red offers no real solutions to the horrors of war, and is unflinching. If MacDonald's supporting narration during combat is sometimes a little too matter of fact then this can be ascribed to Wilde's naiveté, in the best sense, as a director, an ongoing quality marking his best work. MacDonald, a lawyer by profession, is just a man who wants to get back to his wife. John Custance just wants to reach his brother's refuge in Scotland. 'The Man' in The Naked Prey just wants to elude his dogged pursuers. Characters are boiled down to essentials through their desires, offering a simple focus on key, almost primitive, issues in times of great adversity. When necessary, then narrator Wilde can provide the hand-on-heart commentary. This honesty means that we can overlook the odd cliché in his Beach Red, and enjoy it as one of the best war films.
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Excellent "look" at people in war
jimary567 May 2005
I first saw this movie in 1967 (during Vietnam era). It was very realistic in what it depicted before Spielberg and "Private Ryan". Red Beach depicted both the Japanese and the Americans as having a human side. There were battle scenes and they were bloody but the main emphasis in the movie was the people. Cornel Wilde did an excellent job of showing this humanity mainly through pictures and not much dialogue. Wilde was before his time and was really able to connect with the inner feelings of the screen characters. I recently purchased the DVD of "Red Beach" after so many years and it was well worth the wait. The movie pulls no punches. War is not pretty but this movie attempts to show you the inner thoughts of the individual soldier both the Americans and the Japanese. Wilde hit a grand slam home run with this movie.
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Not for all tastes
dennisp13 May 2006
I just bought this DVD and settled in to watch it. I really had trouble sitting through this movie and not fast forwarding through it but since I bought it I actually wasted the full run time watching it.

It is a lot like A Thin Red Line (which I could not sit through either). However this movie was not nearly as self indulgent as Malick's film.

Beach Red was slow moving and riddled with historical inaccuracies. Much of the equipment worn by the actors were very late WWII vintage or Korean war era. Flash-backs to loved ones and girl friends showed women that looked like they stepped out of a 1960's go-go booth. Hair styles, make up, fake eyelashes, room interiors were all 1960' thought to historical accuracy. The combat scenes are something straight out of a 1960's Italian Western with blood the color of a nice Vodka sauce.

As I recall in the mid to late 1960's the big thing in film making was to push the edge on violence and blood content, also there was a heavy anti war message and anti-hero bent. As I watched Beach Red, I couldn't help but think that no one would have a problem dating this picture as a product of the 1960's.

This is not Band of Brothers or As Trumpets Fade (two of my Favorite War movies). If you want to see a good Pacific theater war movie, then watch Sands of Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal Diary or Wake Island. All are superior to Beach Red in my humble opinion.
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If war is hell, this movie must be purgatory.
preachtheman25 May 2008
This movie is like so many war movies, it is so full of heavy handed anti-war messages that it just plods along. It tries to be artsy but ends up just being paced slower than a glacier. This is, in part, because footage is repeated in several scene. The characters have many flashbacks that are presented in a very jarring manner. And, never did any director love closeups of muddy boots more than this one. A favorite quote, coming from a marine infantry officer, said to an over-zealous sergeant (who just broke both arms of a Japanese prisoner that killed several of his men in hand-to-hand combat,) "I don't want these boys to be professional killers!" The whole thing smelled so heavily of the sixties that I got a proximity high just being in the room with it.
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Provoking and strange warlike picture ; being acted , written , produced and directed by Cornel Wilde
ma-cortes21 October 2015
Visually compelling and focused on the battles of a group of Marines and on men's determination to survive their tour of duty . Intense and bloody fight for an occupied Pacific island and shot in Philippines outdoors . This is a thought-provoking as well as exciting wartime film about a spectacular battle for an essential island on the Pacific toll in which a typical crew of Marines fighting the ¨Yellow Menace¨ and it considered to be by some reviewers one of the best American films about the Pacific conflict during WWII ; however , being sometime slow , boring but generally worthwhile . At the beginning the American Marines ashore on a Japanese-held island . As an US marine unit formed by Captain MacDonald (Cornel Wilde) , Sergeant Honeywell (Rip Torn) and Privates (Jaime Sánchez , Burr DeBenning , Patrick Wolfe) fight against the defenders of a Japanese held island , both sides are haunted by their own thoughts and memories ; as battle experience hardens soldiers . What follows are a series of bloody attacks , on the beach , jungles , mountains in which the rifle company fighting Japanese who hold killers gun-machines and other deadly weapons .

It is first hand account of a notorious battle on a Pacific island , and against an important base on a solitary atoll . Focusing on relationship between Capt. MacDonald/Cornel Wilde and his soldiers . Effectively portrays the dehumanizing psychological effects , battling soldiers on both sides are haunted by memories of home and the terrifying , sickening images they experience in combat , and using flashbacks by means of photos and images about their past existences . While the relationship between captain and his men makes the biggest impression and delivers the interesting main plot , among many sub-plots , some of which go nowhere . Interesting screenplay based on Peter Bowman's uniquely constructed novel "Beach Red" , it was published in 1945, near the end of World War II . The sequence in which Japanese troops tried to fool the US Marines by wearing their uniforms was taken directly from the source novel . This dark story produced/acted/directed by Wilde is immensely exciting , firmly characterized on its roles and in places very moving too . The film brings home the true horror of battle and the meaninglessness of it all and visually is stunning . Dealing with the inner thoughts , feeling and philosophical leaning of the soldiers , the picture sacrifices continuity to study several questions , utilizing records , memories and many other things . Combat images are naturally , well filmed and effective , getting spectacular scenes such as the impressive plane attacks on the ending . Atmospheric and evocative cinematography by Cecil Cooney . Sad and touching song sung by Jean Hagen , Cornel Wilde's wife . The movie has only one musical element , this song written by Antonino Buenaventura and it also is heard in other variations throughout the flick . Filmed in the Republic of Philippines and in Japan , the producer gratefully acknowledges the dedicated efforts and the cooperation of the entire cast , Department of National of Defense , the R.P. Marine Corps , the R. P. Navy , the R.P Army , the R.P Air Force , the R. P. Constabulary , the R.P. Research Institute , the R. P. Department of forest and a particularly the friendly and considerable people of the Philippines .

This harrowing motion picture was compellingly starred , written , produced and directed by Cornel Wilde , being released through United Artists . Wilde does a competent job both as actor and filmmaker . It's amazingly well done movie , being Cornel Wilde's best film . He is especially credited as a good actor but also known for directing some acceptable flicks . His later films were of varying quality, and he ended his career in near-cameos in minor adventure films . As he directed adventures as ¨Maracaibo¨ ,¨Lancelot and Guinevere¨, ¨Sharks' Treasure¨ but also Noir Cinema as ¨The Devil's Hairpin¨, ¨Storm Fear¨ and Sci Fi : ¨Blade of Grass¨. ¨Beach red¨ rating : 6.5/10 , good film , well worth watching . Essential and indispensable seeing for warfare fans . It's a good stuff for young people and war movie lovers who enjoy enormously with the extraordinary battles in the lush jungle.

Other fundamental tales based on Pacific landings were the followings : ¨Thin red line¨ by Andrew Marton with Keir Dullea and Jack Warden and ¨Thin red line¨ directed by Terence Malick with star-laden cast as Jim Cazievel as Private protagonist , Sean Penn as the Sergeant , and many others as George Clooney, Nick Nolte and Woody Harrelson . Furthermore , another important film about Guadalcanal battle turns out to be ¨Guadalcanal diary¨ by Lewis Seiler with Anthony Quinn , Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan and Richard Conte .
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Ambitious Oddball War Movie.
Robert J. Maxwell31 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Cornel Wilde directed this combat film on Luzon in the Philippines, and he did a realistic job of it. He had the cooperation of what appears to be the entire armed forces of that nation. He had the cooperation of the U. S. Marine Corps too, but when they saw the results, they asked that their credit be deleted.

There had never been another movie quite like it, but this was 1967 and a time of experimentation. Wilde had his actors lugging real forty-pound backpacks around on the beach. It's crude and sometimes arty and confusing but it was an original in its time. I don't believe we'd ever seen an assault from the sea in which bloody body parts were left floating in the water before. Corpses, yes, blown-off arms and legs, no.

Wilde gives a good deal of sympathetic time to the Japanese defenders of this island. It's completely unlike any of the early World War II movies, such as, say, "Bataan," where the enemy is faceless and referred to only as "bandy legged baboons" and worse. Here, not only do the Japanese soldiers have faces, but some of them are handsome too, and they have friends, and, like the Americans, they have families back home and like the Americans they fight well before they die in agony. It's the kind of movie that's likely to make some people nervous. Not too many, only the ones who think about what they're watching.

But it IS crude. I don't know what the novel is like, but I'll bet I could pick out the bits of dialog that were drawn from it. The rest is overblown and tends to state the obvious. And Wilde uses (sparely) internal monologues that could better have been dispensed with. We see a close up of a man's face and we hear his thoughts. "Will I get out of this alive? Oh, sure I will. I got my lucky rabbit's foot with me." That sort of thing. The dumb theme song is so glaringly obvious that it's almost palpable.

It's arty too, as befits a war movie made in the 60s. An ominous spider hides in a pretty white blossom. (Did Terence Malick see this?) Lots of reminiscences about life back home, almost all of them in still shots. The interior monologues roll on. ("I love you, darling.") Everybody -- Americans and Japanese alike -- seem to have pretty wives and smiling children at home. Every damned one of them seems to have lived a better life than I have so far!

And it's confusing, especially towards the end, as if hurried. This had nominations from two professional organizations for best editing and I can't imagine why. Wilde discovers that the Japanese are about to mount a flank attack and calls in the air force to stop it. "Here come the flyboys," he remarks with satisfaction. And indeed a couple of fighters fly over the beach and strafe the troops to pieces. The only problem is that the troops are all wearing Marine fatigues and there's not a Japanese in sight.

The two men we've gotten to know best -- a hillbilly and a minister's son -- evidently have a terrific mano a mano battle with a Japanese soldier until only one American and one Japanese are left alive to show each other a touch of ironic humanity. But we don't see the battle, just the three soldiers lying there.

Still, I give the thing extra points for its ambition and its ability to make war creepier than most films do. I can think of only three or four films that can make you squirm with discomfort while watching a battle, by showing that the enemy is something more than a villainous rat. I think of THOSE as true anti-war films. The others are puffery. Maybe necessary propaganda, even good propaganda, but propaganda nonetheless. I wonder if it's ever morally sound for us to leave a movie theater after a war movie feeling satisfied and proud, as if our local high school had just won a football game.
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A provocative look at the futility of war
perkypops22 March 2011
There are many wonders in this film.

*An opening sequence of a beach landing with as much, if not more, intensity as Spielberg's later "Saving Private Ryan".

*Unglamourised combat where both sides do what is necessary to stay alive. Action from close range or from distance telling the same tale but with a subtle difference in perspective.

*Flawed characters the whole way through with not a hero in sight, and not a single frame wasted as we are given access to private thoughts, and private intimacies.

*Unforgiving and lingering imagery allowing us the time and space to add our own flaws, our own intimacies, our own doubts to the conflicts we are watching.

This is the futility of war in stark colour, played out by people who do not understand why it should be necessary to fight a war but are forced, by circumstance, to live it out until they too are fallen corpses or survivors for yet another day of 'action'.

Cornel Wilde gets the balance spot on using characters and action to nullify any sense of justification for what we see. Like any voyeur we are made to feel guilty for daring to watch such private tragedy unfold. And yet the director gives us hope in so many subtle ways.

This is a sadly underrated film which is up there with the best in the war genre.
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Polarizing war movie
Milan23 September 2009
"Beach Red" seams to divide the commentators into two distinctively different tribes, the ones that love it and the ones that hate it. There don't seem to be a middle of the road opinion on this movie, so there's mine. I've seen this movie after I heard some good words on it's originality, and I just glanced through user comments on IMDb missing all the bad reviews. I've seen this film on it's own merit and here is what I think.

"Beach Red" is surely one of the strangest and most different war movies of all times, and is particularly original for it's era. Up until the beginning 70's when all the Vietnam resentment started to flow over Hollywood,so the movies like Catch-22 and MASH started to appear, there simply was no war movie that didn't look like "Objective Burma", "Sands of Iwo Jima" or if you want complete silliness "Bridge on the river Kwai". "Beach Red" certainly moved boundaries, it has some school play acting, but the mood of the war is accurately portrayed. Flashbacks are the core of that different approach and look and feel of those is particularly good. One of the reviewers objected that flashbacks show the women of principal American characters with 60's makeup,hairstyles and their homes furnished in 60's style, but they missed that the Japenese women and children were all shown in traditional surroundings and clothes and that's just the point Wilde wanted to make, a great difference in the way of living and culture, and draw a parallel between all wars between cultures from WWII to Vietnam. So the soldiers fight in Phillippines but it looks like they were leaving their loved ones for Vietnam. There is a link between than and now, war is always the same only the settings are different, and that is very well shown in "Beach Red", in which Japanese soldiers don't conveniently speak English with Japanese accent, but Japanese and act like them. Give this movie a try, it may require some patience and understanding but it won't let you down.
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The Wilde, Wilde South Pacific
Michael A. Martinez28 July 2009
Despite Burr DeBenning's and Rip Torn's best efforts at overacting, there is absolutely nothing funny about this film. BEACH RED is one of the most straight-faced and poignant visions of World War II, featuring a lot more heart and humanity than most others of the era and production values which betray its small budget.

Wilde had more creative control over this than any of his other projects and used it as nothing less than a damning condemnation of war not seen since ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. The Japanese aren't subtitled but are presented as just as human as the Americans, and everything appears fair and balanced without any jingoism, patriotism, or bravado in the slightest.

It opens with us introduced with many low-level marines who bond and bicker while their landing boat approaches a deadly beach. What follows is some of the most harrowing war action seen up until recently in the likes of PLATOON or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and it doesn't let up for the next 20 minutes. This opening action is really top-notch, featuring plenty of pyrotechnics, massed extras, vintage Walker-Bulldog tanks, and even some flamethrowers. The real stand-out shot is when the pinned-down soldiers look back to the beach to see a lone G.I. staggering around with his left arm blown off. Truly powerful.

At around this point the film makes a transition to flashback mode with lots of still images used for dramatic effect to show what all the players have to lose by the war. I don't think I've ever seen a film with this many stills, and they work just as well as (or better than) the live-action footage. In the end, it makes the deaths of even the most minor characters quite profoundly tragic. In the end, men have died, dreams have been crushed, memories lost... and just to take control of some obscure island in the Pacific.

This was one of those many war films I remember catching on TBS back when I was 7 or 8. For some reason it always stood out to me, even though I was far too young to catch the meaning of it. However, as an adult and finally able to see it via DVD, I've come to appreciate it on a deeper level every time I can bear to watch it. An experimental, though not entirely successful film, BEACH RED is however the war film that most effectively communicates the tragedy of death in war.
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On a forgotten Pacific isle
bkoganbing20 February 2013
Long before Saving Private Ryan and the notice taken of the rather graphic combat sequences, Cornel Wilde produced, directed, and starred in Beach Red which was 30 years before Saving Private Ryan. Wilde got the same knocks and criticism for his film. And he also received a lot of deserved acclaim.

The plot such as it is a study of a campaign on some forgotten Pacific island that the US Marines are trying to take from the Japanese. Wilde plays the captain of a platoon and his gunnery sergeant is Rip Torn. Wilde also narrates the film from flashback and within the film itself are flashbacks into civilian life both the Marines and the defending Japanese soldiers have. Also in Wilde's own flashback is his wife Jean Wallace whom he always tried to have parts for in his films.

The marines land and the Japanese retreat as per usual in Pacific war films and the war itself. However the Japanese captain, Wilde's opposite number Dale Ishimoto has a rather clever idea for a counterattack. I won't reveal what it is you have to see Beach Red for that.

Wilde himself plays a tough, but fair commanding officer. Two marine privates Patrick Wolfe and Burr DeBenning present an interesting contrast in enlistees. Their good natured rivalry carries a lot of the film.

As a harbinger of Saving Private Ryan, Beach Red was years ahead of its time. If you are a fan of war films, you cannot go wrong with Beach Red.
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BEACH RED (Cornel Wilde, 1967) ***
MARIO GAUCI19 July 2007
This one emerges as Cornel Wilde’s second-best directorial effort after THE NAKED PREY (1966; still bafflingly M.I.A. on DVD). It’s an unflinching depiction of warfare – with a surprising amount of gore for the time, punctuated by touches of dark humor – which must have influenced Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998), even down to having the first third of it consisting of one seemingly endless battle.

The film, however, also anticipates Terrence Malick’s THE THIN RED LINE (1998) by 30 years in its pre-occupation with the soldiers’ domestic lives (via multi-character narration and flashbacks) – but, commendably, takes care to show that of the enemy as well. Plot-wise, it doesn’t really lead anywhere; then again, that’s probably in order to show the futility of war itself and often resorts to creative i.e. showy, but now dated, Oscar-nominated editing to make its points. There’s also the occasional symbolism – for instance, a crushed beetle standing in for the decimation of untrained U.S. troops at the hands of the wily Japanese (at one point, disguising themselves en masse in American uniforms!).

Featuring a largely anonymous cast, the film tries to be contemporary by focusing on the exploits of two youthful soldiers – their sexual hang-ups and fear of dying. The only familiar names are Wilde himself (as the platoon leader – appropriately war-weary yet staunchly dedicated to his men), Rip Torn (as his tough-as-nails lieutenant) and “guest star” Jean Wallace (Wilde’s real-life spouse playing his on-screen wife as well in a few flashback instances and singing the film’s melancholy title song). Torn’s bloodthirsty character personifies the dehumanizing effect of war throughout the film: in the long run, cynicism gets the upper hand – brushing away even a poignant plea for tolerance at the finale!
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this film kept me from being killed in Vietnam
gmsjohnson200227 January 2007
i saw this movie back when it firt came out, and i finally realized the incredibly stupid reality of war. and that is why i never went to Vietnam. none of my children would be alive if i hadn't seen this film. i want to see it again. what i remember most is the scene in which the American and the Japanese guys, both dying, are talking and sharing a smoke. that told me everything i needed to know. cornel wilde is an unsung genius. someday he'll be recognized for what he did, here, and in other films. they say that every great war movie is, almost by definition, anti-war. This movie proves that point, like the immortal "paths of glory".
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watch this to see how bad a war movie can be
dannoman1210 December 2005
Where to start on this film. This was a truly horrible film. The acting was abysmal and confusing. The narration from the characters where so bad that it was funny. The worst thing in this movie besides the wasted money on effects for the "authentic" beach landing was the flashbacks. The flashbacks where the worst i have ever seen. i cannot believe this is not in the bottom 100. You know your movie is struggling when the star is Rip Torn.

Please don't see this movie if you want to watch a good war movie. Only ever watch this when you accidentally flick onto it on your TV and want to have a good laugh at how bad this movie is. 1 out of 10. go see a good war movie like kelly's heroes
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Classic World War II Flick
sydneyswesternsuburbs17 July 2011
Director and actor Cornel Wilde who also created the classic flick, The Naked Prey 1966 has created another gem in Beach Red.

Starring Cornel Wilde who was also in his classic flick, The Naked Prey.

Also starring Gert Van den Bergh who was also in Cornel Wilde's classic flick, The Naked Prey.

Also starring Ken Gampu who was also in Cornel Wilde's classic flick, The Naked Prey.

I enjoyed the violent battle scenes.

If you enjoyed this as much as I did then check out other classic World War II flicks, Das Boot 1981, The Bridge at Remagen 1969, Cross of Iron 1977, The Dirty Dozen 1967, Downfall 2004, Enemy at the Gates 2001, The Expendables 1988, The Inglorious Bastards 1978, Inglourious Basterds 2009, The Longest Day 1962, A Midnight Clear 1992, The Pianist 2002, Saving Private Ryan 1998, Schindler's List 1993, Stalingrad 1993, Story of G.I. Joe 1945, The Thin Red Line 1998, The Thin Red Line 1964, Went the Day Well? 1942, When Trumpets Fade 1998, My Way 2011, Fury 2014, Hacksaw Ridge 2016, Dunkirk 2017 and Where Eagles Dare 1968.
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A potent and uncompromisingly harsh World War II action drama knockout
Woodyanders6 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A platoon of American soldiers lead by the rugged, but humane Captain MacDonald (superbly played by Cornel Wilde) and the mean, bloodthirsty Gunnery Sergeant Honeywell (a chilling performance by the always excellent Rip Torn) embark on a dangerous mission to find a Japanese base on a remote island in the Pacific. Wilde's steady, assured, if rather ragged direction and the gritty, incisive script by Wilde, Don Peters and Clint Johnston astutely nails the chaos, horror and brutality of war: the movie opens on a gripping note with a fierce and harrowing protracted battle sequence, the violence is shockingly gory and graphic (arms are blown off, severed limbs litter the ground, mangled bodies are strewn about, and so on), the characters' thoughts serve as philosophical narration, the tone remains stark, frank and unflinching throughout, and there are poignant flashbacks for both the American and Japanese soldiers alike in order to show how everyone is basically the same. This picture further benefits from strong and convincing acting by a tip-top cast, with especially praiseworthy work by Burr DeBenning as hearty country boy Private Egan, Patrick Wayne as the naive, amiable Private Joseph Joshua Cliff, Jean Wallace as McDonald's sweet, bubbly wife Julie (Wallace also sings the hauntingly melancholy theme song), and Jaime Sanchez as easygoing smartaleck Private Columbo. Cecil R. Cooney's plain, no-frills cinematography really throws the viewer into the thick of the bloody combat and frightening carnage. Moreover, this movie earns extra points for its even treatment of the Japanese, who are shown as being just as scared and human as the American soldiers. It's this latter admirable component of compassion for all humanity which in turn makes this film so incredibly powerful and provocative.
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