Flight from Ashiya - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Flight from Ashiya Reviews

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December 22, 2010
3 men's lives with tortured pasts come together to save lives at sea. We see their pasts in flashbacks. A real surprise, this film gets better and ends better than it begins.

It just doesn't get any better than this with actors like Yul Brynner, Richard Widmark and the lessor known (today)but then celebrity George Chakiris. The camera work and sets are the main faults with this 1964 aviation/romance suspense movie. Tense and at times emotional drama about men against nature, themselves, each other, their past.

Flashbacks go into the lives of the three principal actors. We learn of their former lives and gives us great insight as to where they have come from. An unusual way to tell a story, it is rather fascinating.

The movie starts with a flashback of an Air Force rescue mission that results in killing the people they aim to save. Actor George Chakiris is haunted by the memory. His superior and now co-pilot Richard Widmark go on a second errand of mercy in the stormy icy seas. George can only sweat and think of the first disastorous mission with Widmark.

While terribly TV like made, pretty low budget filming and lousy camera work..... the stars make this one work better than it should ever hoped. Bald headed Brenner looks like a strange guy in Air Force uniform.

Richard Widmark plays a very pragmatic, no chance taking officer that is willing to leave people behind to die. Anyone else is more charitable and tortured by memories.

A U.S./Japanese co production. Three sea-rescue men (Yul Brynner, George Chakiris, Richard Widmark) must overcome their fears, differences and hatreds as they undertake the dangerous rescue of raft-bound Japanese on storm-tossed seas.

This is mostly a Richard Widmark star film (Matt the Hat take notice). As always, he delivers as the true movie legend we should all remember. Yul Breynner gets a chance to act as well, mostly in his flashback love affair.

Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Harold Hecht
Written by Elliott Arnold
Waldo Salt


Yul Brynner
Richard Widmark
George Chakiris
Suzy Parker
Shirley Knight
Daničle Gaubert
Eiko Taki
Joseph Di Reda
Mitsuhiro Sugiyama
E.S. Ince
Andrew Hughes

Music by Frank Cordell
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald, ASC
Burnett Guffey, ASC

Editing by Gordon Pilkington
Studio Daei

Harold Hecht Films
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) March 25, 1964 (U.S. release)

Running time 100 mins.
½ June 17, 2010
Obscure rescue-at-sea epic, helped by a good cast (three then-recent Oscar winners), but hampered by a trite script and an uneven production. The film generally eschews adventure for soap-opera flashbacks: George Chakiris is a young pilot who accidentally created an avalanche which killed some Alpine villagers he meant to save; Richard Widmark is his embittered superior, who loved and lost in WW2 Manila; Yul Brynner is their teammate who loved and lost in WW2 Tripoli. While Chakiris' story is brief and not especially enlightening, Widmark and Brynner's have more promise, although their brevity (with flashbacks and frame story, the whole film is just 100 minutes long) precludes much if any depth, and without depth, there's little point to the whole enterprise. While the two stories are fairly conventional, featuring unbelievably whirlwind romances, the acting is generally decent; Widmark is always good value, and Shirley Knight isn't too bad as the news reporter he marries (and loses because a Japanese prison camp commander refuses to give her medicine earmarked for Japanese citizens). Brynner fares best in the cast, as his sincerity and charm make his segment the best; he falls in love with an Algerian woman (Daniele Gaubert, beautiful but an undistinguished actress), but cultural differences seem to make their love an impossible one. When running after him, declaring her love, she is blown up, along with a bridge which he had rigged. In the framing story, Brynner becomes friends with a Japanese boy, and his byplay with the child is refreshingly enjoyable amid the melodramatics--one wants more of his character. Chakiris fares the weakest, partially because of his shortcomings as an actor (his career was off the boil by this point), and partly because of his poorly written character; whether there was more to him in the source novel is unknown to me, but since its author, Elliott Arnold, co-wrote the script, it seems unlikely. The script, as mentioned before, is thin, too brief, and lacking much of an actual point, except to serve as an advertisement for the Air Force's Air Rescue service. Michael Anderson's direction is functional at best; since I saw the film on TV, I can't really say how good the cinematography was, but, like the film itself, it is likely unremarkable. Decent score by Frank Cordell; somewhat cool-sounding title as well. It doesn't live up to it, though, although its four constituent plots could be profitably expanded.
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