Monday, July 11, 2016

Battle at Bloody Beach

A movie I watched off of my DVR not too long ago is coming up again on FXM Retro: Battle at Bloody Beach, at 3:00 AM and 12:30 PM tomorrow (July 12).

Audie Murphy stars as Craig Benson, an American who is helping the US military during World War II by running arms to the rebel groups in the Japanese-occupied Philippines; after all, the islands had been an American territory before Japan moved in at the end of 1941. The first person he meets is his American radio contact, Marty (Gary Crosby). Marty knows the lay of the land, so to say.

Although Benson is ostensibly there to deliver arms, he has another purpose: he's looking for his wife Ruth, from whom he was separated when the Japanese invaded. He never heard anything about her death, so he's certain she must still be alive, and he wants to find out her fate. The first person Marty leads him to is McKeever (Warren Mims), who doesn't know about Ruth's location but desperately wants those arms. However, Craig decides it would be too risky and continues on to the next rebels, led by one Julio Fontana (Alejandro Rey). Benson decides that these are a good group of rebels, but there's more to it than that. Craig finds that his wife Ruth (Dolores Michaels) is there, along with several other westerners looking for a way off the island, which Craig is certainly willing to give them.

Unfortunately, there's a problem. Ruth was under the impression that Craig had died during the Japanese invasion, so she's quite shocked to see him show up! Further complicating matters is the fact that, figuring she was a widow, she didn't really have a problem falling in love with Fontana and his noble purpose. Now that she discovers she's still married, there's an obvious problem. There's even more to it than that. Craig doesn't particularly care about the part of the war effort he's involved in; he's only running arms as a pretext to looking for his wife. Now that he's found her, he wants to take her, go home, and sit out the war to the greatest possible extent. Ruth, on the other hand, has come not only to have romantic feelings for Fontana; she's come to believe he's got a just cause, and may well be willing to stay behind for that cause.

Amidst all that tension, the Japanese attack. After all, they're the ones occupying the islands, you had to expect it for that reason, never mind the fact that you also need it for the movie plot. So now Craig has to get himself, his wife, and a bunch of even less fit westenerers down to the shore without getting them all killed by the Japanese. Good luck with that.

Battle at Bloody Beach is one of those movies that was made at Fox during the time period that the studio was having enormous problems getting the Taylor/Burton Cleopatra made. I've seen quite a few movies from Fox that time period that have an extremely low-budget look about them, and Battle at Bloody Beach is one of them. (Enjoy Catalina Island subbing in for the Philippines.) It's unfair to say, but that's a strike against it. It also doesn't help that the movie is fairly predictable and has a cop-out ending that's probably there to satisfy the Production Code. The performances are OK, but nothing trule memorable. Overall, it's not a failure, but it's not great, either.

Battle at Bloody Beach is, as far as I know, not available on DVD. Worse, the last time FXM showed it, they ran a panned-and-scanned print.

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