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Yesterday's Enemy (1959)

Approved | | Drama, War | 11 July 1959 (Japan)
Trailer
2:45 | Trailer
In World War II, during the Japanese invasion of Burma, the lost remnant of a British Army Brigade HQ, led by the ruthless Captain Alan Langford, escapes through the jungle toward the British lines.

Director:

Val Guest

Writer:

Peter R. Newman
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Nominated for 4 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Stanley Baker ... Captain Langford
Guy Rolfe ... Padre
Leo McKern ... Max
Gordon Jackson ... Sgt. McKenzie
David Oxley ... Doctor
Richard Pasco Richard Pasco ... 2nd Lt. Hastings
Philip Ahn ... Yamazaki
Bryan Forbes ... Dawson
Wolfe Morris ... Informer (as Wolf Morris)
David Lodge ... Perkins
Percy Herbert ... Wilson
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Brigadier
Barry Lowe Barry Lowe ... Turner
Burt Kwouk ... Japanese Soldier
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Storyline

Cut off by the Japanese advance into Burma, Captain Langford (Stanley Baker) and his exhausted British troops take over an enemy-held jungle village. Despite the protests of an elderly padre ('Guy Rolfe (I)') and of war correspondent Max Anderson (Leo McKern), Langford orders Sergeant McKenzie (Gordon Jackson) to shoot two innocent villagers, thereby "persuading" a Japanese informer to surrender vital information. When the Japanese recapture the village, their commander uses Langford's own desperate war-born tactics in a similar effort to extract information from the British. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Outspoken Film of Our Time! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Burmese | Japanese

Release Date:

11 July 1959 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Yesterday's Enemy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Columbia asked Hammer to edit out numerous uses of the word "bastard" for its American release. See more »

Goofs

There are six prisoners in front of a firing squad, but only five soldiers in the firing squad each fire one shot. See more »

Quotes

Captain Langford: He knew there's only one way to fight a war, any war. With your gloves off.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no 'The End' at the end of the film. The camera merely pans away from a memorial which reads 'WHEN YOU GO HOME TELL THEM OF US AND SAY- FOR THEIR TOMORROW WE GAVE OUR TODAY'; and silence, but with just birds singing. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Looking for Peter (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Burma March
(uncredited)
Composed by Franz Reizenstein
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Uncompromising look at the cruelty of war.
28 September 2010 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Yesterday's Enemy is a taut claustrophobic war film about a whittled down company of British soldiers caught behind the lines in Burma. It takes no sides other than to point out the absurd futility and dehumanization of individuals in war and the limited options they are faced with. It is a sober unromantic and highly provocative work that foreshadows the quagmire in Viet Nam and unapologetically addresses actions taken in the heat of battle far from the sideline moralizing out of harm's way.

Captain Langford leads his lost patrol with a firm hand cajoling and threatening members of the unit to remain disciplined and vigilant. When they stumble upon an austere Burmese jungle village they are surprised by a fierce Japanese resistance attempting to protect a senior officer. With the village under control Langford seeks answers through intimidation, torture and finally execution of innocent locals. Eventually they are overwhelmed by the Japanese who adopt the same methods to get answers about their missing general.

Despite it's sound stage jungle locale Yesterday's Enemy director Val Guest attains a very atmospheric feel of heat and pressure with the uncompromising downward thrust of the film as reality trumps morality. Stanley Baker's Langford and Gordon Jackson's Sgt. McKenzie remain stoically impressive throughout as they address the reality they are given while Guy Rolfe's Padre and Leo McKern's journalist Max ably bring balance and debate to the picture in arguing the other side.

Yesterday's Enemy (even the title points out the absurdity of war) unromantic and dark vision offers no solutions but raises dozens of questions about the ugliness of war without flinching remaining with you long after the firing has ceased. It is Britain's Steel Helmet.


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