Beach Red (1967)
I am sure if I had been a twenty something at the end of the 60s "Beach Red" would have impressed with its drama of American Marines landing on a Japanese Island and advancing against attack. But I wasn't and having watched the likes of "Saving Private Ryan" and only now having watched "Beach red" I was left bored and under whelmed by this very similar war drama. It just felt seriously laborious and unreal as we watch the Marines land and advance, people die in fake ways and with actor and director Cornel Wilde choosing to give us the men's inner thoughts accompanied by montages of non war footage it is disjointed and a bit pretentious. I suppose what that really means is that once "Beach Red" was probably a good movie but now has dated badly making it feel inferior for new comers like myself.
What we get in "Beach Red" is the equivalent to the opening of "Saving private Ryan" accompanied by "The Thin Red Line" as we go from watching the marines aboard the ships before landing, the actual landing itself and then advancing across the Japanese held island. As this goes on we get to know various men be it the friendship which forms between soldiers Egan and Cliff or the deep inner thoughts of Capt. MacDonald as he ponders pretty much everything that happens and what he says. In doing so it does establish that war was different for each soldier when the likes of Pvt. Columbo wanted to get a small injury to get out whilst Sergeant Honeywell would do what ever to hurt the enemy. And in a way this basis of the movie still works you get to understand the situation reasonably well.
But then there is a lot about "Beach Red" which simply now feels corny none more so that the moments when we get the inner thoughts and fears. Now I can understood why we get this because it helps establish how each soldier felt about war but it jars with everything especially when these deep thoughts are often accompanied by non war footage as in relationships with girls and family. It probably worked well back in the late 70s especially with these montages often using stills but now it just doesn't work.
What also doesn't now work is the acting and style because it all looks far too staged especially when we get close ups of actors faces where they are meant to be deep in thought. It just doesn't ring true especially when you have watched the more chaotic war movies of recent years and the way these soldiers interact also feels extremely false, scripted rather than natural. And talking of being unnatural it has to be said that "Beach red" isn't a graphic movie and at one point I thought that no one was going to die when they charged the beach under fire. In some ways the fewer deaths the better because the acting when anyone gets killed is laughable as we have grab wound, grimace, scream, fall to the floor and then flop.
What this all boils down to is that "Beach Red" probably was impressive back in the late 60s and probably holds cherished memories for those who saw it back then. But for those who come to watch this movie having watched the more realistic "Saving Private Ryan" will find in style it is very weak, dated and corny.
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