4 May 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
War in the Philippines
A great director like Fritz Lang is reason enough to see any film, regardless of its reception. It is hard though to not expect much when you see Lang's name attached. Also Tyrone Power, while not one of my favourite actors, is always watchable, although not every film he starred in was great (though few were "bad" strictly speaking). They were the two reasons for me watching 'The American Guerilla in the Philippines', as well as appearing in my more like this section with no prior knowledge of it.
Watching it, 'American Guerilla in the Philippines' didn't strike me as a bad film and there are a fair share of good elements. It also didn't strike as a particularly good film with an equal amount of bad things, and the main reason to see it in the first place is if you are wanting to see everything that Power and Lang did, so completest sake really. Power doesn't come off too badly here, being in a role that suits him (that actually has been the case more than once in his overall lesser films), but this is not a good representation of Lang in one of his weaker efforts.
There are good things here in 'American Guerilla in the Philippines'. It is shot beautifully in striking Technicolor, which enhances the already beautiful Philippine locations extremely well. The music is suitably rousing and lush, while the action sequences are truly exciting (especially the climax).
Power plays his role with the right amount of brooding charisma, he is not too lightweight for it and his strengths are at least played to. Tom Ewell does surprisingly too playing against type, while the Japanese officer is chilling in parts.
However, the dialogue, which can be too talky, often ranges between bad and painful and in the non-action scenes 'American Guerilla in the Philippines' tends to go dead pace-wise. The romance is particularly tedious in this regard, and not helped by a Micheline Presle and hardly any chemistry between her and Power, it doesn't add very much either and seemed to be there because it is seemingly obbligatory to have one. The acting from the rest of the cast is rather amateurish
It is hard to believe that this came from the same director who directed masterpieces like 'M' and 'Metropolis', am really trying to be fair here but it is hard not to compare. It is always nice to see a director do something atypical and there have been numerous instances of that happening and the film being good and even great, but Lang was well and truly out of his depth here shining only in the action scenes with the romance especially betraying that notion. The story execution is very hit and miss, leaning towards miss with the momentum mostly not being there and the same can be said for any tension. There is even some patriotism thrown in and it felt heavy-handed and unnecessary.
Concluding, watchable for the technicolor and Power but a big disappointment by Lang standards. 5/10