US, 1966, 109 minutes, Colour.
Hugh O’ Brian, Mickey Rooney, James Mitchum, Peter Masterson.
Directed by Ron Winston.
Ambush Bay is a routine World War Two film. It was directed by Ron Winston, a director of many television series. It is a star vehicle for Hugh O’ Brian who had emerged in the 1950s but was never to be a top-flight star. He is supported here by Mickey Rooney. The setting is the Philippines, a group of marines sent secretly to infiltrate the Japanese in order to prepare the way for Mac Arthur and ‘I shall return’.
Filmed on location, it has the expected ingredients – and is a perspective of the 1960s remembering World War Two.
I. How conventional a war film? Was it better that its conventions? What conventions of the genre did it use? Location photography, the Philippines, the attitudes towards Americans and their coming to the Philippines? the nature of the mission, dangers, the technique of the diary, days and comment, the heroics of the climax?
2. Did this seem a realistic film? Why? The mission itself, the journey and the dangers, the heroic ctijnax?
3. How did the film generate excitement? How did it involve its audience?
4. How just was it in its attitude towards war? War and its heroism and the attitude of the soldiers, volunteering, relentless going into their quest? Its attitudes towards the ugliness of war? The dead Japanese at the tree? the number of deaths, the dangers to civilians in the village, the need for decisions?
5. What was the film’s attitudes towards death? The number of Japanese, number of the group in the platoon being killed? the girl and her being shot by the Japanese?
6. How well drawn were the characters? Cory as a person as a leader? His explanation of his background? His hardness, in leadership and decisions? The other men and their efficiency, the introductory technique and explanation, the radio man and his inexperience and naivety?
7. Action sequences, comradeship, climax of the mission?