In contrast to many professedly anti-war films, Beach Red is indisputably sincere in its war is hell message. Except for brief reveries of civilian life, the film focuses entirely on a single dreary campaign by an American unit out to take a Japanese-held island in the Pacific.
Notably absent are the usual stereotypes: the tough-talking sarge with the heart of gold, the frightened kid who becomes a man in combat, etc. The trouble with the screenplay, adapted from Peter Bowman’s 1945 novel, is that little is substituted for these wisely-avoided cliches. The central characters are spokesmen for differing points of view, not real, full-bodied people. The acting quality suffers as a result.
The captain (Cornel Wilde) loves his wife and hates war. The sergeant (Rip Torn) derives sadistic pleasure from the war. An 18-year-old minister’s son (Patrick Wolfe) remembers his girl back home and inarticulately echoes the captain’s pacificism. His Southern sidekick (Burr DeBenning) is a hearty illiterate for whom the armed forces is a haven.
1967: Nomination: Best Editing