Just in case you thought war propaganda was incompatible with good filmmaking, here’s this release in Fox’s War Classics series.
The film literally is a diary, narrated by Reed Hadley, a war correspondent covering the US assault on Guadalcanal. Every step of the way the men are up against not only the Japanese enemy, but the natural enemies of terrain, weather and disease as well. The film was made smack in the middle of the war in 1943, and was rushed into production after the book of the…same name came out. The idea was to capitalize on one of the first major US victories of the war.
As with the other films in the series, the sound is available in both mono and a newly created stereo track. The sound is clean and clear, in other words as good as you could expect a 1943 soundtrack to be. And while, as ever, stereo is a nice bonus during the battle scenes (it’s always nice to have the explosions and gunshots coming at you from all over the room), the effect is strange when the dialogue does the same. The characters wind up sounding a bit more like God than is necessary. But this is the price to pay for boosting a mono recording into stereo. You decide which version you like best.
The picture is very solid, if not quite as beautiful as Wing and a Prayer. The contrasts are clean, and there is no problem with clarity, but there is some slight print damage, notably some scratches about 28 minutes in. Overall, though, if the film is showing its age, it does so with considerable grace. The picture is, of course, in the original 1.33:1 format.
The menu is still and silent, and the extras are limited to trailers for this and a few other war films.
Definitely worth seeing. Not only is the film itself one of the top combat movies of the period, it is fascinating to watch with the knowledge that, when this film was made, the war was still a long way from being won.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailers