1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This 1954 war film film disappointed me considerably and in some of its silliest moments even made me laugh out loud. Below, more of my impressions, with SPOILERS.
The story begins reasonably well. It is October 1943 and the invasion of Japanese held large island of Bougainville in Solomon Islands is imminent. In order to confuse the Japanese, a diversion is made by the landing of a battallion of US Marines on Vhoiseul, another large island near Bougainville. Such an operation really took place on 28 October 1943, three days before the invasion of Bougainville and therefore this film is initially based on real events.
Very quickly however things in the scenbario went south as soon after the landing on Choiseul we see four (yes, just four!) Marines being send on a supposedly absolutely CRUCIAL mission which will take them into a part of island filled with Japanese troops, when in the same time like one hundred other Marines are send to do some other, clearly less important stuff... The four guys are Sergeant Fletcher (Frank Lovejoy), a veteran who served already 20 years in USMC and three simple soldiers, much younger but already also hardened veterans of Guadalcanal campaign: Burke (Tony Curtis), Reynolds (Skip Homeier) and Biggerman (Alan Wells).
I will not say much about the rest of the story, but at one moment a cute damsel in distress will also appear, played by Mary Murphy (mostly known for being Marlon Brando's co-star in "The Wild One". She plays Nina Bouchard, the daughter of a local French planter, who hid in the jungle for the last 20 months - and still wears a sexy dress, has an excellent haircut and a discreet but stylich makeup...))) Later on, the dress will progressively get ripped in some strategic places, enough to show some nice skin, but just not enough to upset the censors (this is a 1954 film...).
The problem with this film is the silliness of the scenario which actually made me frequently laugh in moments which were supposedly extremely dramatic. Here are the best or rather the worse of them:
- Japanese main command and communication post is in a house in the middle of a plain, decorated with an extra large flag, just in case some American planes failed to see it...
- at one moment we visit a Japanese position which was "abandoned so fast, that they abandoned personal effects and couldn't even finish this cup of sake"; but just before leaving the previous occupants had the time to comprehensively booby trap the whole place with extremely elaborate traps and bombs...
- a simple private keeps insulting, abusing and even hitting (!) his Sergeant, a large burly man with 20 years of service in Leathernecks behind him - and the latter doesn't even object...)))
- no matter how much heat the Japanese pack (they even have tanks!), their favourite way of attacking is with KNIVES!
- Japanese just adore fighting shirtless, with their torso bared, except when they appear in large formations -then, everybody is in full uniform
- Tony Curtis sinks a Japanese destroyer (!) with one hand grenade and a little bit of oil...)))
- when a sniper shoots one of your soldiers, the way to deal with the situation is to all stand in the open, with the person in command holding a pistol in hand and therefore showing who is the most important target; then for a couple of minutes let's discuss the situation without even trying to hide...
- it is possible to send a message from a Japanese radio in their own headquarters when they are all busy doing something else...
- when being near an American invading force, a whole platoon of Japanese will strip naked and take a bath, leaving weapons and uniforms on the shore, without even posting a guard...
- even the smallest river craft, barely able to carry eight guys, must display a Japanese flag large enough for a battleship (it is not an exaggeration)
- Japanese soldiers fight to death, but sailors from Imperial Japanese Navy surrender on first sight of the enemy...)))
There also is in this film a scene of death of one of American soldiers which is so ridiculous that I place it without hesitation in the my personal TOP THREE most stupid death scenes ever! And the general atmosphere is that of a low budget western about a group of people lost in the wilderness when running from hostile Indians - it's just that here the bad guys have some better weapons...
Bottom line, this is one of the silliest war movies I ever saw and I now understand better why it is so little known - it is simply because it doesn't deserve to be more known... God only knows how could anybody convince Tony Curtis, a very good actor, to play in this thing... Watchable only for most devoted Tony Curtis fans or people making a study of war B movies from the 50s. Otherwise avoid it as tropical plague.
22 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2005
The stars of this movie, Tony Curtis, Frank Lovejoy and Mary Murphy have appeared in some good movies. Beachead is not one of them.
I think this was a feeble attempt by the screenwriters to create another "Ambush Bay." They failed.
on June 10, 2014
Tony Curtis was a fine actor but even his skills could do little to save this film from being anything other than mediocre.
It has a few good moments here and there, but most of it is just so far being being realistic that parts of it I almost laughed at.
Tony Curtis plays a US Marine sent with 3 other marines to find a French planter on a Japanese held island and decide if some information he radioed out is true or not.
Strangely, he almost continually berates the sgt leading the mission and at one point even strikes his sgt. The sgt never seems to mind. Very odd.
Mary Murphy plays the daughter of the French planter. She runs around in the jungle in a nice looking dress and manages to fall in the water multiple times. She never showed enough skin to make it all that interesting though, not real surprising for a mid 1950's film.
I can't really recommend it, but it is not the worst WWII film ever made.