Movie Review: Suicide Battalion (1958)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1958 war movie starring Mike Connors and Bing Russell.

Synopsis: American soldiers defending a Philippine island during World War II are overwhelmed by the Japanese. With American forces in full retreat, a small group of men are given the task of entering enemy territory in an attempt to destroy a captured American base containing valuable intelligence information.

Who's In It?

Review

I ended up staying up a little later than the rest of the family last night and, partly as a way of settling myself down for the night, I decided to find a movie to watch. I ended up picking this film, both because it was relatively short (I didn't want to stay up too late) and because of Veteran's Day.

I had never heard of this movie before and, other than the brief description, didn't know much about it. But, I hoped it would be a classic "shoot-em-up" war movie. Unfortunately, it wound up being kind of a disappointment.

I think my biggest problem with this film is it just tried to do too much in a relatively short run-time (74 minutes). The basic premise of the film, involving six men trying to complete an impossible mission, should have been more than enough to carry it. Instead, the movie just seemed to have a bad habit of throwing in extra drama that really wasn't needed.

For example, the movie goes to great lengths to show the headbutting between the two alphas of the group, Maj. McCormack (Connors) and Lt. Hall (Russell), something that should, on its own, caused the mission to be in jeopardy. But, just in case that wasn't driven home enough, the writers also decided to add even more tension by having them clash over a female journalist (Lain) they had just met. I'm assuming the only reason for this was because they believed having the men outnumbered 100-to-1 wasn't enough to build suspense.

The movie also seems to have an awful lot of filler, and I'm not just referring to all the stock footage that was used. The film was nearly over before McCormack and his men even bothered going on the mission. The rest of the time was spent showing them in a bar, goofing around with farm animals and trying to arrange a marriage.

I'm not necessarily opposed to something like this for the sake of giving the characters some depth or to lighten the mood a bit. But, the lack of seriousness leading up to the mission did ultimately take something away from the film, especially since the actual mission took up such a small portion of the movie.

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Final Opinion

If this movie would have focused more on the actual mission and less on all the extra stuff, I think it had the potential to be an OK film. Unfortunately, the decision to add a bunch of extra stuff that simply was not needed did make the movie a lot less enjoyable.

My Grade: D

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Updated: 11/11/2019, StevenHelmer
 
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