Objective, Burma! (1945)

Objective, Burma! (1945), directed by Raoul Walsh.

In preparation for the invasion of Burma, American paratroopers attack a Japanese radar station. That part goes well. Getting out is much, much harder.

Some of Hollywood's wartime entertainment tended toward action fantasy, as in Desperate Journey (1942), also from Warner and directed by Walsh and starring Errol Flynn. Others -- like this one -- are much more grounded in reality and try to anticipate or follow the historical events. Air Force (1943) by Howard Hawks and John Ford's They Were Expendable (1945) are other examples.

Flynn drops his swashbuckling persona and plays a serious officer, both mission oriented and trying to care for his men. It's more like the roles he always wanted.

In the attack on the radar station the entire Japanese garrison is mowed down and entirely wiped out without a single casualty on the US side. That may be unreasonable but they pay for it in the long slog back where they are picked off one by one.

In one village they encounter the remnants of a separated unit, tortured and mutilated by the enemy. A survivor begs to be killed. This is all off camera, so our imagination runs with what has been done to them.

This was a time when hatred of the Japanese ran strong. The jungle is "Jap-infested" and they are called "monkeys". "Wipe 'em out!"

The colorful "common man" soldier was a staple of war films and we have a little of that here. Supporting cast: Henry Hull (newsman who should have stayed home), George Tobias ("Mazel tov!" he says so we get the point), Anthony Caruso, Hugh Beaumont.


Available on DVD.