|HELL TO ETERNITY (director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: story by Gil Doud/Ted Sherdeman/Walter Roeber Schmidt; cinematographer: Burnett Guffey; editors: Roy Livingston/George White; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Jeffrey Hunter (Guy Gabaldon), David Janssen (Sgt. Bill Hazen), Vic Damone (Pete), Patricia Owens (Sheila Lincoln), Richard Eyer (Guy, as a boy), John Larch (Capt. Schwabe), Bill Williams (Leonard), Michi Kobi (Sono), George Shibata (Kaz Une), Reiko Sato (Famika), Miiko Taka (Ester), Sessue Hayakawa (General Matsui), Tsuru Aoki (Mother Une); Runtime: 133; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving H. Levin; WB; 1960)|
stripes by painting the Japanese-Americans
in a positive light and
for its relentless attack against
by Dennis Schwartz
Phil Karlson ("Kansas City
Confidential"/"The Phenix City Story"/"The Brothers
Rico") in this low-budget war drama shot by Allied
Artists tells the true story of a troubled punky East
LA, Mexican-American, Guy Gabaldon (Richard
Eyer, as a boy), whose widowed mom dies
when he's a boy growing up during the Great Depression
and he's adopted by his Japanese -American high school
basketball coach (Kaz Une) and
his kind-hearted family.
engaging true story, shot in b&w, is based on a story
by Gil Doud and is written by Ted
Sherdeman and Walter
Roeber Schmidt. It's an overlong and sluggish
biopic that earns its stripes by painting the
Japanese-Americans during World
War II in a positive light and for its
relentless attack against racism.
Pearl Harbor, the feisty 17-year-old Guy
Gabaldon (Jeffrey Hunter), who speaks
a fluent Japanese, joins the marines and serves in
the South Pacific, while his foster family is
imprisoned in a benign detention camp for being
Japanese. During the
bloody invasion of Saipan, Guy is able to convince
scores of Japanese soldiers and frightened civilians
to surrender by understanding their culture and is
responsible for the capture of more enemy than any
other American. For that he was awarded
the Navy Cross and the Silver Star.
Janssen co-stars as Gabaldon's tough drill sergeant
and singer Vic Damone is Guy's ladies man boot-camp
buddy. The legendary Sessue Hayakawa plays with
relish the commanding officer of the Japanese forces
and a pre-Star Trek George Takei
(billed as George Takai) plays Guy's adoptive
brother George. Patricia Owen plays a stripper who
attracts Guy's attention.
The uneven patriotic film was a box-office hit and is noteworthy as one of the few films at the time to call attention to how the Japanese-Americans were discriminated against during the war.
REVIEWED ON 5/25/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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