6.8/10
2,914
43 user 17 critic

Too Late the Hero (1970)

A reluctant hero, American Lieutenant Sam Lawson, is secunded to a motley British unit tasked with destroying a Japanese radio on a Philippine island.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

Robert Aldrich (story), Robert Sherman (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Pvt. Tosh Hearne
Cliff Robertson ... Lt. Sam Lawson
Ian Bannen ... Pvt. Jock Thornton
Harry Andrews ... Col. Thompson
Ronald Fraser ... Pvt. Campbell
Denholm Elliott ... Capt. Hornsby
Lance Percival Lance Percival ... Cpl. McLean
Percy Herbert ... Sgt. Johnstone
Patrick Jordan Patrick Jordan ... Sergeant Major
Sam Kydd ... Colour-Sergeant
William Beckley ... Pvt. Currie
Martin Horsey Martin Horsey ... Pvt. Griffiths
Harvey Jason ... Signalman Scott
Don Knight ... Pvt. Connolly
Roger Newman Roger Newman ... Pvt. Riddle
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Storyline

A WWII film set on a Pacific island. Japanese and allied forces occupy different parts of the island. When a group of British soldiers are sent on a mission behind enemy lines, things don't go exactly to plan. This film differs in that some of the 'heros' are very reluctant, but they come good when they are pursued by the Japanese who are determined to prevent them returning to base. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

War. It's A Dying Business.

Genres:

Action | War | Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 September 1970 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Suicide Run See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$615,000, 31 December 1970

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,590,000, 31 December 1970
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(video compilation) | (TCM Print)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| Mono (Westrex Recording System) (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The U.S. Navy's base in Subic Bay, Philippines was a perfect location. It had all the necessary amenities, as well as having a rain forest on one side, and salt water on the other, in addition to its proximity to the city of Manila. See more »

Goofs

When the patrol ambushes the first Japanese patrol, there are five Japanese in this patrol. Hornsby shoots one in the back, causing him to fall to the ground. The rest of the British troops then fire at the remaining Japanese, of which there are still five standing. See more »

Quotes

Capt. John G. Nolan: [Sarcastically referring to Lawson whom he secunded to the British] They're gonna love him!
See more »


Soundtracks

Teddy Bear's Picnic
Written by John W. Bratton
Lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy
Sung by the patrol as it leaves the base
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fairy foot and snow white.
21 November 2008 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Too Late the Hero is directed by Robert Aldrich who also co-writes the screenplay with Lukas Heller and Robert Sherman. It stars Michael Caine, Cliff Robertson, Henry Fonda, Ken Takakura, Denholm Elliott, Lance Percival, Ronald Fraser and Ian Bannen. Music is by Gerald Fried and cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc.

Lawson (Cliff Robertson) is an American naval officer who specialises in Asiatic languages, thus he is sent to a Pacific island to assist a group of British soldiers on what seems a routine mission. The mission is to simply knock out the Japanese army's key transmitter, but as the men get deeper into the jungle terrain it becomes obvious that the odds of survival are minimal at best. With inner fighting escalating and a hostile enemy closing in fast, it's a time for heroes to be born and friendships to be laid bare.

Often, and wrongly, considered a weak attempt by Aldrich to cash in on the success of his Dirty Dozen movie three years earlier, Too Late the Hero had been written some ten year previously. Although some way away from the gutsy grandeur and bulging biceps of The Dirty Dozen, TLTH is still a potent war movie. Often claustrophobic in mood and acerbic in war character observations, film holds narrative attention from first reel to last. Bursts of violence drift in and out of the plot to keep things on the boil, but it's the excellently drawn characterisations of the major players that stops this from merely being another run of the mill "insanity of war" movie. It's also nice to find the Japanese are portrayed as an intelligent foe, and not the irksome machine gun fodder so rife in other films of the ilk. It helps to have Takakura turning in a stoic performance as part of the latter, too.

Some other astute reviewers has given this film a tag line of it being a unique war film, not a truer line has been typed on the internet forums. This film, tho not bringing anything new by way of the psychological aspects of men under duress, always remains a thoroughly engrossing picture. Helmed by the criminally undervalued Aldrich, film boasts a ream of excellent performers making it unique by bringing to life a screenplay that's not pandering to any conformity's of the genre, it relies totally on strength of dialogue and character formations to capture our interest. Really the only charge from dissenters that might stick here is that it's arguably just another Vietnam allegory that the 70s seemed intent on giving us. Arguably, mind.

It's a bloody suicide mission!

That the cast list contains Michael Caine (brilliant here with gritty swagger), Cliff Robertson, Denholm Elliott and a barely used Henry Fonda is of obvious interest from the start, but the ace card in Too Late The Hero's pack is with its supporting players, Ian Bannen, Harry Andrews, Ronald Fraser and a serious turn from comedy specialist, Lance Percival, where all of them in the sweltering confines of the Phillipines location manage to pull the viewer into the mix and fully realise the crispness of Aldrich's excellent screenplay; aided superbly by Biroc who manages to convey via his photography some apt sweaty jungle madness. Yes! This is not a film for those wanting guns a blazing at every turn, it's simply not that type of Gung-Ho picture, those bursts of action, while hitting hard, are swamped by the focused action of the human mind at work, the kind where greed, mistrust and a basic survival instinct are the order of the day.

The set-up of the two opposing armies on this island is a bit daft, so some suspension of logic is needed from the off, while there's no escaping the fact that there are a number of war movie clichés within. Yet this is still potent stuff, a film with things to say and corrosive in its telling. Making for once, the negativity of such material, still a rewarding viewing experience. 8/10


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