After being so impressed with director and star Cornel Wilde in magnificent form with his chase movie The Naked Prey I had been excitingly awaiting his 1967 follow up Beach Red. This time he stars as a Captain MacDonald, a leader of a US marine unit sent in to fight the might of the Japanese who have a stronghold on a small island in the Pacific during World War 2.
Cornel takes the pacifist anti-war film approach and includes a very everyday man feel to it. You get introduced to the soldiers whilst they are circling around the rough sea onboard their landing craft ready to go into hell as they ready themselves for the beach attack.
It isn’t long before they are given the orders to attack the beach and what transpires is pretty horrific and quite the set piece. For the time, I can imagine this mass beach invasion to have looked very impressive, which it still does. I read and could see clear inspiration to the brutal realism on the D-Day landing sequence in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. It might not have the money and the effects but it’s certainly effective.
What sets this film aside from more gung-ho war films of the time is it’s approach to show a different side to the horrors. Imagery and narration is used in a surreal way to show the morbid reality of war, a cockroach under a boot, a butterfly caught in a spider’s web and the knowledge that most of the insects and plants are out to get you.
We hear little excerpts from each of the marines as inner monologues and daydreams, their fears, worries and feelings for loved ones or even just for everyday chores. Captain MacDonald mutters to himself that he must buy some new glasses when he gets home.
Also, which is refreshing, is the portrayal of the Japanese soldiers. You see visions of their past lives, like a rice farmer who has been taken away from his wife and young family as he fondly remembers back to his former life.
Capt MacDonald flashes back to his last encounters with his wife and family whilst Private Egan (Burr DeBenning) recalls his past lady friend hook ups, which leads to a great scene with him drunk as a skunk messing around with a gorgeous leggy lass twice his size. Played by “Tall Girl” Linda Albertano at 6’4″ and damn sexy too.
Total bad ass Sergeant Honeywell played by Rip Torn gets to fire off the films best line.
“”I’m gonna bayonet ’em, break their arms, so they don’t give me no more trouble! That’s what we’re here for… To kill… The rest is all crap!””
Captain MacDonald gets a good one in too as he tell redneck Private Egan who can’t stop eating tins of beans.
“I’ll put you in for a new medal, Egan…… for abdominal fortitude”
Some of the dialogue and acting is a little rough round the edges but it’s heart is very much in the right place. Well worth tracking it if you haven’t seen it, or if you have, what did you think?
Here’s the trailer which is really awesome. It edits pretty much everything in under 3 minutes. I suggest you watch the film first if you gonna see it soon but if you can’t wait, go for it.