6 May 2006 | bkoganbing
This MacArthur Ain't Returning
I'm sure that the title of this film Cry of Battle was no accident and I'm sure many a piece of change was spent on admission to this feature because folks thought they were seeing a re-release of the more well acclaimed Battle Cry. That was a big budget studio effort which had Van Heflin as a Marine Colonel during the Pacific War.
Cry of Battle also starred Van Heflin as a less admirable character and my guess is that the American players who appeared here did this as a boost to the Phillipine movie industry. Heflin shares top billing with Rita Moreno and James MacArthur with a cast of Filipino players.
The premise of this film is borrowed a bit from the ending of Stalag 17. William Holden in that film tells Don Taylor in no uncertain terms that he is helping him escape because of anticipated rewards from Taylor's rich family. James MacArthur is the rich son of an American planter who like many Americans is stranded there after Pearl Harbor and the attack on Clark Field. He meets up with Van Heflin who is a merchant seaman similarly stranded. Heflin figures there might be a big reward in helping MacArthur out.
Teaching him the facts of life involves rape for Heflin, but he's got an instinct for survival and he teaches MacArthur. They join up with a newly formed band of Filipino resistance and meet the captivating Rita Moreno who's a survivor herself. The rival gets good and heated.
I'm sure flush from her Oscar in 1961, Rita Moreno could have gotten parts in bigger pictures than this. But I do believe the Americans were just helping the Phillipines get some American dollars in receipts by appearing here. She's quite the fetching girl temptress in this film.
Van Heflin has never played a more loathsome character in his career. Yet he actually makes this guy likable, not an easy thing to do playing a rapist. But he's that skilled a player, he never gave a bad performance.
Fans of Van Heflin, including myself, would do well to see this film and see just how wide a range of characters that man could play.