Saturday, June 4, 2016


World War II was still being waged when Warner Brothers released Raoul Walsh's OBJECTIVE BURMA on January 26th, 1945. I watched this rousing war film for the first time this past Memorial Day and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It's a classic "guys on a mission" adventure narrative. Captain Nelson (Errol Flynn), and his men parachute into Burma in order to find and destroy a Japanese radar base. They do so with little difficulty but when they are ambushed at an extraction point, they can't get out of Burma by plane as was originally planned. They are forced to walk out of the enemy held country in a long march to freedom or death.

Flynn was a bit past his prime at this point in his career. He's a little softer around the edges and his hair is darker but he still cuts a heroic figure as a man who is determined to accomplish his mission and save as many of his men as possible. Along for the ride is older war correspondent Mark Williams, wonderfully played by Henry (WEREWOLF OF LONDON) Hull. A lot of the narrative exposition is told to Williams as a means of informing the audience as well. Also among Nelson's men is Warner Brothers contract player George Tobias who later gained fame as Abner Kravitz on television's BEWITCHED. And back at headquarters, monitoring Nelson's plight is an uncredited Hugh (LEAVE IT TO BEAVER) Beaumont.

OBJECTIVE BURMA was beautifully shot on location in Southern California by the great cinematographer James Wong Howe (there's also a lot of stock footage) and has a terrific score by Franz Waxman. Raoul Walsh keeps things moving relatively well but with a running time of 142 minutes, the film is a bit too long. Nevertheless, OBJECTIVE BURMA delivers the wartime goods in a big way. It's an exciting WWII film with a solid cast. Recommended.

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