Review: ‘Hell in the Pacific’

Tale of two warriors forced to co-exist. Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune comprise the entire cast of this World War II drama, directed with an uncertain hand by John Boorman.

Tale of two warriors forced to co-exist. Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune comprise the entire cast of this World War II drama, directed with an uncertain hand by John Boorman.

Story [by Reuben Bercovitch] takes off with the discovery by Mifune that he no longer is alone on a desolate Pacific island. Pair stalk each other, then attempt to outwit each other, finally collaborate on survival in the form of a raft.

Mifune’s unrestrained grunting and running about create an outdated caricature of an Oriental. Marvin has sardonic lines which resemble wisecracks, intended for on-lookers. The subtle humor which was meant to exist becomes overpowering.

Lalo Schifrin could not have served worse the purposes of the film. Phony suspense bits – snapping twigs, etc. – are punched to death through maladroit composing. Net effect of this is the impression that there have got to be 50 musicians lurking just off-camera.

Marvin’s arresting screen presence requires appreciative surrounding characters, none of which are present, or meant to be.

Mifune gets few chances to project three-dimensional characterization.

Hell in the Pacific

Production

Selmur. Dir John Boorman; Producer Reuben Bercovitch; Screenplay Alexander Jacobs, Eric Bercovici; Camera Conrad Hall; Editor Thomas Stanford; Music Lalo Schifrin Art Dir Anthony D.G. Pratt, Masao Yamazaki

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1968. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Lee Marvin Toshiro Mifune

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