Wake Island (1942)

Genres - War  |   Sub-Genres - Combat Films, War Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 24, 1942 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A tremendous financial and critical success in its time, Wake Island is a fine and effective war movie. The passage of time has rendered it more valuable as an example of well-wrought propaganda than of a great drama. There are almost no grays in Wake Island; practically everything is set out in clear, black-and-white terms. This helps to make it a rousing adventure, but it also makes it more than a little manipulative, a fact that is brought home on repeated viewings. Still, John Farrow directs with a great deal of energy, imbuing the film with tautness and tension, staging the battles scenes with remarkable effectiveness. He's also good at helping keep the various members of the cast identifiable with distinct character traits that border on caricature but don't too often cross the line. Brian Donlevy does a fine job as the glue which holds the film (and the men) together; he gets especially fine support from Robert Preston and William Bendix, who display real chemistry in their scenes together. Modern audiences won't get the same punch from Wake Island as did those in 1942, but fans of war films will definitely want to catch it.