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.
Seven weeks after Pearl Harbor, volunteers form the new 2nd Marine Raider Battalion whose purpose is to raid Japanese-held islands. The men selected come from different walks of life but have toughness in common. Under command of Colonel 'Thorwald', they're trained in all imaginable forms of combat. Then, after a perilous submarine journey, they face a daunting first mission: to annihilate the much larger Japanese garrison on Makin Island, in a lengthy battle sequence.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This fact-based war film (detailing the first ground assault on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor) is neatly divided into two parts showing, first, the specialized training session of the carefully-chosen platoon (which is quite interesting) and the mission itself (displaying fairly standard heroics but well enough done nonetheless).
The film has been criticized for glamorizing what was essentially a band of cutthroats (Leonard Maltin even describes it as "a jaw-dropping experience"). Still, there was no doubt that any war picture made during this time wouldn't ram propagandist slogans down the audience's throat (witness Randolph Scott's final straight-into-camera speech); ironically, even if the latter was the film's nominal star, he's rarely involved in the action proper being there mainly to co-ordinate things, and repeatedly instigate his men to kill every Jap on the island!).
The supporting cast is good, made up of veteran character actors J. Carroll Naish, Sam Levene and newcomers notably Robert Mitchum; however, a fair share of the running-time is unwisely devoted to the romantic triangle involving a girl and two soldiers who happen to be half-brothers (one of them played by Noah Beery Jr.) all of which has a quite deadening effect on the main narrative! Despite being a relatively early WWII film, the action sequences are surprisingly gutsy though accentuated on occasion by obvious stock footage.
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