Beach Red (1967): Actor Cornel Wilde Directs Oscar-Nominated WWII Drama

Cornel Wilde, better known as an actor (“Leave Her to Heaven”), produced, directed, and stars in this hard-edged and brutal chronicle at World War II, which doesn’t flinch from graphic depcition of the horrors—and deaths–of battle.

Amazingly focused (and for some critics too narrowly-conceived), the action takes place during a single American campaign to take an island held by the Japanese.

Interspersed with the present violence are flashbacks to civilian life, which offer escape from the gritty, dreary, and nasty contemporary setting.

In addition to Wilde, who plays the captain (Wilde), who loves his wife but hates the war, the ensmeble includes such character actors as Rip Torn, the sergeant, who gets sadistic pleasure out of battle, Patrick Wolfe, as the minister’s son who remembers too well the girl he left behind, and Burr DeBenning, as the Southern illiterate, who feels at home with the Marines.

The screenplay, based on a 1945 novel by Peter Bowman, stees clear of the usual genre cliches, but most of the characters are too narrowly defined—they are types and stereotypes.

Even so, Wilde deserves credit for making a hrash WWII combat picture, which refuses t o idealize or romanticize the proceedings, and release it during the height of the Vietnam War.

 

Oscar Nominations: 1

Film Editing: Frank P. Keller

 

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Film Editing Oscar was Hal Ashby (who later became a director) for Norman Jewison’s “In the Heat of the Night,” which also won Best Picture, Best Actor, and other awards.

 

Credits

Running time: 105 Minutes.

Directed by Cornel Wilde.

.Screenplay by: Peter Bowman, Clint Johnston.

Released: August 3, 1967.

DVD: April 19, 2005

 

Cast

Cornel Wilde as Capt. MacDonald

Rip Torn as Sgt. Honeywell

Burr De Benning as Egan

Patrick Wolfe as Cliff

Jean Wallace as Julie MacDonald

Jaime Sánchez as Colombo

Genki Koyama as Col. Sugiyama

Gene Blakely as Goldberg

Fred Galang as Lieutenant Domingo

Linda Albertano as Tall Girl

Jan Garrison as Susie

Dale Ishimoto as Capt. Tanaka

Norman Pale as Nikato

Bill Dunbar as Squad soldier Pvt Bill

Michael Parsons as Sgt. Lindstrom

Dewey Stinger II as Mouse