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DVD Review: ‘American Guerrilla in the Philippines’

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A rarely-seen film starring Tyrone Power, American Guerrilla in the Philippines is the latest release from 20th Century Fox in its Fox Cinema Archives collection. Like many of the other films in the archives, the film comes to DVD for the first time.

Navy Ensign Chuck Palmer considers his new orders

Navy Ensign Chuck Palmer considers his new orders

Directed by Fritz Lang and filmed on location, the 1950 film centers on Ensign Chuck Palmer (Power) an American Naval officer who has become stranded in the Philippines after Bataan. The film was based on the real-life story of Iliff David Richardson. The soldier’s memoirs were turned into a best-seller, An American Guerilla in the Philippines, by author and war correspondent Ira Wolfert.

Palmer and a group of locals and soldiers must survive after their torpedo boat is destroyed by a Japanese air strike, until General MacArthur (Robert Barrat) does indeed return. Palmer, another soldier named Jim Mitchell (Tom Ewell), and Filipino resistance member Miguel (Tommy Cook) team up, while trying to evade capture by Japanese forces. In the middle of all of the fighting and espionage, Power (of course) finds time for romance with the wife of a local planter, Jeanne (Micheline Presle), who has also joined the resistance movement after witnessing the murder of her husband by Japanese soldiers.

The resistance tries to hold off the Japanese, from L-R: Tom Ewell, Tyrone Power, Micheline Presle

The resistance tries to hold off the Japanese, from L-R: Tom Ewell, Tyrone Power, Micheline Presle

Movie buffs will enjoy the opportunity to view a rare item from Lang and Power’s ouevres, but they must also be prepared for images that are frequently grainy and murky, especially in night scenes. The color images, when the light levels are better, are vibrant. The 105-minute film also includes frequent derogatory references to the Japanese, with cardboard cut-out villains and some (for its time) fairly violent scenes. All in all, American Guerilla in the Philippines is a patriotic war movie that is of interest for fans looking to see all the films of Lang and Power.

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