Hell in the Pacific (1968)

Hell in the Pacific (1968), directed by John Boorman.

We get right to it with no backstory or preliminaries: a Japanese and American soldier, castaways on a small island, at first continue the war, then learn to cooperate and become partners in survival. Even buddies, for as long as it lasts.

It is rare to find such a concentration of talent, all personal favorites:

It is a quirky treatment: both men are tough enough but neither is Sanjuro (Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (1962)) or Major Reisman (The Dirty Dozen (1967)). Their hide-and-raid warfare begins to resemble Tom & Jerry or Roadrunner cartoons, with Marvin giving an especially goofy interpretation.

Boorman's original ending was cut by the producer and replaced with an abrupt bit of stock footage for the theatrical release. When I first saw it I thought they must have run out of film and just quit the picture. The original final two minutes is much more in keeping with the tone of the film. Both versions are available on the Blu-ray.

What I learned from the Blu-ray commentary track:

Twenty years into the DVD era, after ten years with Blu-ray, we finally get a Warner Archive Blu-ray to replace the ancient and sad 4:3 letterboxed DVD. This has been on my want list for ages.

Image quality in bright scenes is fair, not great; dark scenes have a lot of noise.

The commentary track by two film scholars gives deep background on everyone involved, but not so much on the film itself.

Both theatrical and director's cuts are included, as are a good set of extras. The cuts are identical apart from those final two minutes.