Oscar Movies: Beach Red (1967)

Cornel Wilde, better known as actor (“Leave Her to Heaven”), produced, directed, and stars in this hard-edged and brutal chronicle at World War II that 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, is 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.