An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
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
Brian Locke, in his article "Strange Fruit: White, Black, and Asian in the World War II Combat Film 'Bataan' " published in the "Journal of Popular Film and Television", states the film "successfully made white viewers aware . . . of the inherent sadism in the American lynching ritual" and in this film there was a shifting of "the respective relations of the black and the Asian to the white norm, as the film adjusted to a wartime context." See more »
A soldier on a stretcher refuses to give up his weapon. His hands change position between shots. 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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Closing credits epilogue: So fought the heroes of Bataan. Their sacrifice made possible our victories in the Coral and Bismark Seas, at Midway, on New Guinea and Guadalcanal. Their spirit will lead us back to Bataan! See more »
For a war movie, this was a bit unusual in that almost the whole film took part in one place. You could almost make a play out of this. A group of men stay in one area trying to sabotage a bridge so the Japanese can't use it to transport supplies. Meanwhile, they have to fend off attacks by the enemy. The closing scenes feature that attack and some are quite brutal.
At least half of the story is not action but melodramatic looks at the soldiers, particularly of the squad's sergeant leader Robert Taylor and one of his men who has an attitude problem: Lloyd Nolan. We also get some shorter profiles of combat men played by Robert Walker, Thomas Mitchell and Desi Arnez (yes, Lucy's husband).
The special effects are more than passable considering they weren't too advanced in the film industry compared to today's technology. However, credibility was a little thin as those Japanese soldiers died awfully fast in those combat scenes at the end. I swear I saw several of them drop over before anyone hit them!
Taylor was the best in this movie "army" and Walker was the annoying character, playing an extremely young and generally stupid Navy guy (don't ask) who never stopped talking in this irritating voice. Other than his character, this was a tough, no-nonsense war movie.
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