Japan has just invaded the Phillipines and the US Army attempts a desperate defence. Thirteen men are chosen to blow up a bridge on the Bataan peninsula and keep the Japanese from rebuilding it.Written by
This is one of few contemporary World War II films to feature an American soldier who was an African-American. As such, the movie was not shown in parts of the American South. The book "The Films of World War II" notes that producer Dore Schary said that letters of complaint were received by the studio. See more »
The Japanese attacks were unrealistic. At this stage of the war frontal assaults or banzai (suicide) attacks were not part of Japanese Army tactics. Also, individual Japanese soldiers rushing the American lines one after another and getting mowed down in the process was strictly Hollywood. Also, the Americans unnecessarily exposed themselves to enemy fire, with tragic results; at least three were shot by snipers during the many lulls in the battle. See more »
Corp. Barney Todd:
You're right, Sailor. You're dead right. That's what we oughta do. Those poor civilians are havin' a tough time... havin' to give up their gas and tires and sugar... and havin' to buy bonds. We gotta keep up their morale.
Sergeant Bill Dane:
Thanks for giving us your views on the subject, Corporal.
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Opening credits prologue: When Japan struck, our desperate need was time - - - time to marshal our new armies. Ninety-six priceless days were bought for us - - with their lives - - by the defenders of Bataan, the Philippine army which formed the bulk of MacArthur's infantry fighting shoulder to shoulder with Americans. To those immortal dead, who heroically stayed the wave of barbaric conquest, this picture is reverently dedicated. See more »
Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
My Mom saw this movie at the time it was released and said it gave her more nightmares than any horror film she ever saw. It is still violent today and must have been shockingly brutal back in the day.
Yes, you can say some of the soldiers are clichéd, but death is shown unflinchingly. Combat is portrayed as a bloody, messy, fatigue-inducing business. Boredom and endless waiting take their toll on nerves as well. The banter and cocky talk is whistling past the graveyard.
Lloyd Nolan's character is rough and unlikeable. He fights for freedom, but he fights dirty and he doesn't pretty things up with patriotic speeches. Some might complain about the black soldier playing harmonica and taking orders from white men. Actually, for the time, he was portrayed with dignity and shown to be as brave as any of the other soldiers. As for Robert Taylor, his weariness and resolve at the end are stirring and the last scene is not one you will soon forget.
Ignoring the propaganda aspects of the movie, the last half works as almost a pure horror movie, as our cast gets gruesomely picked off by unseen foes lurking in the jungle.
Exciting and gripping, it's easy to overlook the faults of this most violent and gritty of WW2 films made at the time.
"Bushido, Bushwa! You stink!" So died the heroes of Bataan...
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