Beach Red (1967)

Genres - War  |   Sub-Genres - Combat Films, War Drama  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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This often-overlooked war movie remains a powerful experience despite a few flaws. Beach Red is pretty gripping throughout, thanks to its immediacy: director/star Cornel Wilde does an impressive job of making the viewer feeling like they are inside the middle of the battle by capturing the action with an effective mix of handheld camerawork and jittery editing that cuts in flashbacks and flash-forwards to create a disorienting mood. Beach Red is also unique amongst war films of its era for portraying both sides of the conflict as decent human beings and also depicting the violence of the battles in a gruesome, deglamorized style (these elements would make the film an influence on later films like Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line). Unfortunately, Beach Red suffers from some flaws when it steps away from the battlefield: the flashbacks to the American soldiers' home lives are often clumsy and forced and the narration and between-battle scenes between the soldiers have a similarly well-meaning yet often awkward feel. That said, Wilde's technique has an undeniable raw power that keeps the film going past these rough spots, building to an ending that is heart-wrenching in a way that war films rarely are. Wilde also turns in a solid performance as the captain who acts as the moral compass for his platoon and his work is supported by strong character work from Rip Torn as a grizzled, bloodthirsty sergeant and Burr DeBenning as a country-boy soldier who's just trying to make it home alive. All in all, Beach Red overcomes its problems to stake its claim as a groundbreaking entry in the war film genre.