Some of the most horrific events of WWII occurred in the Pacific Theater, and this film touches on what happened in Bataan, where tens of thousands of U.S. and Philippine soldiers died in captivity, either on the infamous Death March, the appalling POW camps, or the hell-ships.
At the beginning and ending, this film briefly shows some of the survivors, though it is "sanitized", and the men have some flesh back on their bones.
John Wayne is terrific as Colonel Madden, who organizes the resistance fighters, and does his own stunts, some of which must have left him muddy and bruised.
Anthony Quinn is also excellent as Captain Bonifacio, the leader of the Filipino guerillas. Both Wayne and Quinn are at their most handsome and heroic, and make a fine cinematic pairing.
Though the script is sometimes stilted, it is based on actual events and people, and was written as history was happening, taken from the daily newspapers to the screen.
Edward Dmytryk's direction is well paced, and Max Steiner's "stock music" was used, along with an original score by Roy Webb.
Much in this film can be said to be "propaganda", as it is "good vs. evil", with no subtleties or gray areas, but these were the days when Hollywood and patriotism were compatible, a sentiment that filmmakers seem to have lost, and a time that seems long gone.
May we never forget the souls who bravely fought for freedom and suffered so much in Bataan.
Filmed in Black and White