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Monday, March 28, 2011

Tarawa Beachhead (1958)

At Guadalcanal, a marine (Kerwin Mathews) sees his superior (Ray Danton) deliberately shoot and kill another soldier (John Baer). But feeling that no one will believe a Sergeant's word over a Lieutenant's, he keeps silent but vows to bring justice. Complications ensue when Mathews falls in love with the murdered soldier's widow (Julie Adams) while Danton romances her sister (Karen Sharpe, HIGH AND THE MIGHTY). A tight, economical WWII drama that focuses on human relations rather than the battles. The film doesn't glamorize war but rather takes a look, albeit somewhat superficial, on the psyche of an ambitious (and possibly psychopathic) soldier who'll sacrifice lives so he can be a hero. It's a minor footnote in pantheon of WWII movies but it's very adult and doesn't bother to disguise that the two couples are freely engaging in sex without benefit of marriage. Mathews (7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD), usually very stiff, is surprisingly good here as is Sharpe who brings a knowingness to the happy go lucky sister. Directed by Paul Wendkos and with Peggy Maley and Morris Ankrum.

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