Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back Door To Hell

A rather thin tale (thanks in part to budget and time) of a three-man US intelligence foray to the Philippines to prepare for liberation at the end of World War II. The location shooting and the local guerrilla band both emphasize the Americans’ outsider status and provide a texture of authenticity, as does the newsreel-style presentation of two battle scenes. But Hellman’s interest is in the people and how they get on with the futile business of living. The nearest thing to a hero is the high-strung and desperate guerrilla leader with a sobering back-story, whilst of the Yanks, Jimmie Rogers (the popular singer) is awkward as the lieutenant on the verge of a crack-up, Nicholson’s a jaded wiseacre and the cynical sergeant (Hackett) sums things up: “man is born, scurries about a bit and then he dies”.

d Monte Hellman p Fred Roos sc Richard A. Guttman, John Hackett ph Mars Rasca ed Fely Crisostomo, Monte Hellman m Mike Velarde cast Jimmie Rogers, Jack Nicholson, John Hackett, Conrad Maga, Annabelle Huggins, Johnny Monteiro, Joe Sison (1964, USA, 75m, b/w)
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