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The Camp on Blood Island (1958)

Approved | | Action, Drama, History | 11 June 1958 (USA)
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Deep in Malaya, as World War II is rapidly coming to an end, men, women and children, trapped by the Japanese invasion, are held captive in the Blood Island prison camp. Knowing that ... See full summary »

Director:

Val Guest

Writers:

Jon Manchip White (screenplay), Val Guest (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
André Morell ... Lambert (as Andre Morell)
Carl Möhner ... 'Dutch' (as Carl Mohner)
Walter Fitzgerald ... Beattie
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Dawes
Phil Brown ... Bellamy
Barbara Shelley ... Kate
Michael Goodliffe ... Anjou
Michael Gwynn ... Shields
Ronald Radd ... Yamamitsu
Marne Maitland ... Sakamura
Wolfe Morris ... Interpreter
Richard Wordsworth ... Keiller
Mary Merrall ... Helen
Michael Ripper ... Driver
Edwin Richfield ... Sergeant
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Storyline

Deep in Malaya, as World War II is rapidly coming to an end, men, women and children, trapped by the Japanese invasion, are held captive in the Blood Island prison camp. Knowing that Yamamitsu, the sadistic commandant, will murder them all when he learns of his country's defeat, Dutch, a Dutch planter, smashes the camp radio. British officer Lambert and, in the women's prison, the recently-widowed Kate, join Dutch in arming the prisoners. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Authenticated by the very few who survived the massacre in...

Genres:

Action | Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

11 June 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'île du camp sans retour See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hammer Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Helen Beattie was born in 1888. See more »

Quotes

Col. Lambert: I've no use for shirkers and there's no room for self-pity here.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"This is not just a story - it is based on a brutal truth." See more »

Connections

Followed by The Secret of Blood Island (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hammer vs David Lean
18 August 2009 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

The links with "Bridge on the River Kwai" go further than just the Japanese prison-camp setting and the presence of Andre Morell; there is the same theme of the commanding officer whose behaviour seems increasingly unreasonable in the face of the prisoners' privations, the lone American contrasted with the starved Commonwealth soldiers, and a morally ambiguous ending. In some ways this Hammer production suffers less from political compromise, not being required to introduce an American leading actor for the benefit of the US box office, but it has to be said that whatever flaws may exist in David Lean's film, "The Camp on Blood Island" is ultimately no competition. It's a decent and sometimes brave picture (even the women are shown hounding the suspected collaborator in their midst) but it doesn't hold the same seeds of greatness.

There is some fine acting on display, both from the actors playing the Japanese, who convey a sense of alien culture without becoming ridiculous, and those portraying the physically drained and starving prisoners: the opening shots of the young man struggling to dig his own grave are actively disturbing, both for his apparent emaciation and for his dragging movements of utter collapse. Andre Morell, of course, dominates the film as the obstinate and authoritarian Colonel Lambert, and in a sense the plot structure consists of gradually justifying his seemingly unreasonable behaviour -- but it is not that simplistic, and the revelation of the final consequences of his decisions (was it, ultimately, all unnecessary?) leaves a note of deliberate ambiguity.

The prisoners in the women's camp are, perhaps inevitably, shown as rather more glamorous than their male counterparts, with their fetching dishevelment a token gesture towards the starvation and illness stated in the script. Barbara Shelley, playing Kate, does appear rather too healthy in her close-ups for the degree of weakness and collapse she is supposed to portray during her escape. But unsurprisingly this is a male-dominated film, and all the really intriguing characters are male. Lambert himself, and the fretful diplomat Beattie, chafing under what he sees as the military mishandling of their situation. Father Paul, jeopardising his life and his cloth to pass messages via the medium of the funeral Mass. The former planter Van Elst, driven to repeated risky sabotage.

For a film that was condemned on release for its 'orgy of atrocities', "The Camp on Blood Island" is actually quite restrained in what is implied, let alone shown on screen: the horrors and Japanese 'bestiality' are as much psychological, based on petty humiliation and anticipation, as anything else. This is not torture porn -- the worst that we see is machine-gunning, plus one clean beheading. ("Bridge on the River Kwai" actually goes further in this respect.) But there is never any doubt that the prisoners' situation is horrific, and that ultimately they are prepared to throw lives away in a desperate attempt at group survival.


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