Ambush Bay (1966)
“Their top secret mission paved the way for the man who said “I Shall Return!”.”
Director: Ron Winston
Cast: Hugh O’Brian, Mickey Rooney, James Mitchum
Synopsis: A Marine unit on a Japanese-held island in the Philippines tries to hook up with local Filipino guerrillas.
Ambush Bay is a very routine programmer which must have seemed outdated even when it was new. Narration in a film is always a dangerous thing; too often, as here, it is used as a shortcut to avoid having to develop any characterisation. James Mitchum, who plays the rookie of the outfit (and whose character was stacking shelves six months earlier) introduces us to an outfit of grim-faced troops as they are about to be dropped behind enemy lines for an improbable mission that will naturally change the outcome of the war. Mitchum wastes his time really, because most of them are dead before we can learn anything about them, and the focus narrows down to Mitchum, rugged and sullen sergeant Hugh O’Brian, and Mickey Rooney (Riffraff, Summer Holiday), who must surely be filmdom’s dinkiest marine.
The story is extremely routine, and enlivened only by a couple of moments, one when an American-Japanese agent makes some barbed comments about the internment of her parents in an American camp while she is helping the US win the war, and the other wonderful moment when mini-marine Rooney takes down half a dozen Japs with a couple of ‘baked potatoes’ (‘You can eat them with their jackets on!’ he declares triumphantly.) The only other plus is the terrific location photography, which is enhanced by a crystal clear image on DVD. Big drawback: James Mitchum — poor boy inherited daddy’s looks but lucked out on the acting talent.
(Reviewed 8th January 2008)