Too Late the Hero (1970) - USA - Action War Movie - Rated GP (i.e. PG)
Directed by Robert Aldritch
Starring Cliff Robertson, Michael Caine, Ian Bannen, Harry Andrew, Ronald Fraser, Denholm Elliot, Ken Takakura, Henry Fonda
An entertaining enough war movie but its confused Vietnam era anti-war message ruffles the wrong feathers, being this movie is set during Wold War 2 in the Pacific Theater.
American G.I. Lt Lawson is a Japanese translator who has successfully avoided combat and is about to go on leave when he is instead sent to help a group of British commandos in the Pacific. The British co-occupy an island with a Japanese outpost which keeps tabs on allied ships and broadcasts an "all's well" radio signal nightly. The success of an American naval plan depends on that "all's well" signal being broadcast and the Japanese navy not being informed of their maneuvers otherwise. It is up to Lawson and the British commandos to cross a dangerous open field where they will be fired on by Japanese gunners, penetrate the jungle, broadcast a fake "all's well" signal (hence, the reason for Lawson being there), destroy the transmitter and return. Easier said than done.
As a war movie, Too Late the Hero hits its mark with action, timing, and even suspense enough to be entertaining. The problem with it, that I found, is the allied commandos are constantly bickering with each other to the point they could be heard for miles, but especially the allies come off as backstabbing and even cowardly in contrast with the Japanese. In one instance an allied soldier shoots a Japanese officer in a blind ambush after the Japanese officer has opted out of shooting a captured allied soldier because it would be barbaric, but apparently not too barbaric for an allied soldier?
This movie was made during the Vietnam War and would have been better, with its anti-war message, to have been based during that war rather than imposing that message on a war in which the allies basically fought to no less than save the world from tyranny. It's like imposing an anti-gun message in a movie where a woman defends herself from a rapist by shooting him and making her look like the bad guy. O.o
Aside from its confused message and flaws such as the ridiculous open field across which allied soldiers must run against a barrage of enemy gunfire in order to get to the jungle or back from it, Too Late the Hero does succeed in providing enough to be entertaining for the war movie lover, though anybody else might be left scratching their head in confusion as to who the good guys are.
My Rating: 3 Fingers
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