Hell in the Pacific (1968)
Directed by John Boorman
Based on the story by Reuben Bercovitch
Screenplay by Alexander Jacobs, Eric Bercovici
Starring: Lee Marvin, Toshiro Mifune
A downed American pilot (Marvin) and a Japanese soldier (Mifune) come to an uneasy truce while stranded on a deserted island.
This film is based on the story by Reuben Bercovitch (Out of Season), with the screenplay written by Alexander Jacobs (The Seven-Ups) and Eric Bercovici (Farewell Moscow). John Boorman (The Tiger’s Tail) served as director. The film features just two incredible actors, Lee Marvin (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and Toshiro Mifune (Throne of Blood).
This is a great story that focuses on the tension between supposed enemies. The writing sets the pair at odds and then begins to examine the reality of their situation. This leads to a number of great moments that help to shift the relationship. The dialogue is sparse, but says everything necessary in the film. The story has a number of twists and turns that help to keep the tension going. There is an uneasiness in the story that adds to the drama as well. There is an unfinished feel to the story which is a bit tough to explain. Overall, this is still a strong and unique war film.
Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune put on quite a show throughout this movie. Their individual performances and the chemistry between them are worth watching. Throughout the movie the pair have opportunities to match one another both physically and emotionally. The small amount of dialogue leaves much of the story to be told visually. Their expressions and physical performances handle the job nicely.
This story behind this film is almost as interesting as the film itself. The stars both served in the military for their respective countries during World War II. Fans of the stars should check this one out. While it did not do well during the original release, it is a unique view of the lesser-known talents of these stars. The filming was done entirely on the rock islands of Palau, adding a sense of authenticity to the film as well. While the story isn’t perfect, this is still a fascinating film. I would definitely recommend it to fans of the stars. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.