(director: Ron Winston; screenwriters: Marve Feinberg/Ib Melchior; cinematographer: Emmanuel I. Rojas; editor: John F. Schreyer; music: Dick LaSalle; cast: Hugh O’Brian (1st Sergeant Steve Corey), Mickey Rooney (Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Wartell), James Mitchum (Pvt. James Grenier), Peter Masterson (Sgt. William Maccone), Harry Lauter (Cpl. Alvin Ross), Tisa Chang (Miyazaki), Gregg Amsterdam (Corporal Stanley Parrish), Clem Stadler (Capt. Alonzo Davis), Jim Anauo (Pfc. Henry Reynolds), Tony Smith (Pvt. George George); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Hal Klein/Aubrey Schenck; United Artists; 1966)
“Action-packed but thin WWII drama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran TV director Ron Winston (“The Gamblers”), in his feature film debut, helms this action-packed but thin WWII drama. It’s written by Marve Feinberg and Ib Melchior in a no-nonsense taut way, following along the lines of the 1954 Beachhead (but not as good!). It tells of a special reconnaissance unit of nine U.S. marines in October of 1944 who are on a secret mission in the Philippines (filmed on location in the Philippines) in which they have 96 hours to locate a Japanese-American girl, Miyazaki (Tisa Chang), who has information for General MacArthur’s planned invasion of the Japanese-occupied island.
When their leader Capt. Alonzo Davis (Clem Stadler, Lt. Colonel military adviser for pic) is killed, the hard-nosed Sergeant Corey (Hugh O”Brian, a former drill instructor in the marines) takes command. The patrol must fight their way through the jungle and only a handful survive when they reach their destination and rescue Miyazaki from enemy captivity. She tells them the enemy has learned of MacArthur’s planned invasion route and have mined the bay he will use. The patrol’s radio has been destroyed, so they can’t communicate this valuable intelligence.
Sergeant Wartel (Mickey Rooney) plays the hero and stays behind to keep the enemy occupied, at the cost of his own life, as Corey and Pfc. Grenier (Jim Mitchum, Bob’s son), set out with Miyazaki to detonate the mines. Miyazaki will sacrifice her life to save her rescuers and though Grenier, the only inexperienced member of the marine patrol, is the sole survivor, the mission is deemed a success. It ends with the MacArthur radio broadcast: “People of the Philippines, I have returned.”
It’s entertaining, especially for those action freaks and those not minding propaganda films about how war is a chance to prove one’s manhood.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2007 GRADE: C+