Beach Red Reviews
Very gritty and realistic war movie, especially for 1967. At that time war movies painted a very romanticized view of war. Here we get to see the horrors of it.
Not only that, but writer-director-actor Cornel Wilde tries to humanize the soldiers, showing them in more peaceful times, and their thoughts and motivations. Even more ambitiously, he attempts to do this for soldiers on both sides, American and Japanese.
However, there's intentions, and then there's deeds. The actual execution is very clumsy. The attempt to show the human side of the soldiers is mostly a failure. The daydream-bubble-like home sequences don't really give away much of the soldiers' characters. It's like watching several unconnected home movies, and very bland ones at that. Plus, Wilde does this so often and for so many soldiers you end up with (bland) information overload, and the interjections become irritating.
There is also an attempt to show nature as counterpoint to war, but this is half-heartedly done.
Performances are mostly pretty poor, and are another aspect that brings the movie down. Wilde is so-so in the lead role. Rip Torn gives probably the best performance of the movie, but still seems one-dimensional. Worst of the lot is Burr Debenning as Egan - incredibly irritating and unconvincing.
Terrence Malick would later successfully execute the ideas of daydream sequences to humanize soldiers and nature as counterpoint to war in "The Thin Red Line" (1998). You can see the influences of this movie in that production. That might be Beach Red's lasting legacy, and that only.
(1967) Beach Red
Co-written, produced, directed and starring Cornel Wilde who's actually done something like this before when a person is doing more than just being the star for there's also the exceptional movie "The Naked Prey". Out of many war movies, this one ranks as one of the best since, I as a viewer don't really care too much about sympathizing with the characters when I know for a fact that not all of them are expected to make it back so for a movie to use people's emotions feels wrong. Instead of sympathizing with the characters, this film dwells on what some of the soldiers are thinking about which includes some of the Japanese soldiers who also prefer to stay and hang around with loved ones. To those Japanese who're opposed about joining may end up getting themselves shot, but in the American soldiers case is pretty much the same where their patriotic obligations / duty comes ahead before spending time with family. The film uses many powerful still shots similar to the short 1962 film "La jetée" where the actions of others are much more powerful than showing the action straight up. The anti- war message is very evident here and the huge cast of extras makes the experience much more easier to appreciate.
3.5 out of 4 stars
"Keep your fat head down and you wont catch no spray."-Gunnery Sgt. Ben Honeywell (Rip Torn)
During the midnight screening the numerous explosions kept the crowd well awake.