Stewart's Only War Movie
Engineer, U.S. Army Major Baldwin (James Stewart) finds himself and his team of volunteers now operating a demolitions team in China, blowing up many of the things they were responsible for building to stave off the advance of the Japanese army. After blowing up munitions dumps and an airfield Baldwin and his team head up into the mountains where they are due to blow up a major bridge. But Baldwin finds himself frustrated by the customs of the Chinese as well as a request to escort Madame Sue-Mei Hung (Lisa Lu) to the city they are heading to. As Baldwin witnesses the way of the Chinese he becomes more and more frustrated by these people he is helping when some of his men fall victim to their ways.
I believe James Stewart refused to do war movies as they were never accurate to how it was. Well in 1960 he did make one war movie, the hard to get hold of and rarely broadcast "The Mountain Road" and unsurprisingly it is not a typical war movie. Nope this isn't a movie about heroics and sticking it to the enemy but more about the futility of war, about the pointless loss of life and the differences in cultures which makes it hard to understand why people do and don't do certain things.
Sadly whilst "The Mountain Road" is an interesting movie it is also an underwhelming one which if you watch because you want to be entertained you are likely to be a little disappointed. The trouble with it is that this feels like a movie not only with a message but also a modest budget and as such we have a lot of dialogue where issues are mentioned and explored. For example there is a scene where Baldwin plans to shut a road but finds himself being question by Sue-Mei as to what happens to the Chinese on the other side who can no longer make it through. It ends up feeling forced as it tries to make its points through the dialogue rather than delivering the drama visually although it does feature some impact scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "The Mountain Road" whilst not a failure is a movie lacking in entertainment and as such anyone who watches this because of James Stewart may find it a bit too laborious and dialogue heavy.