Ambush Bay (1966)
Hugh O’Brian is perfectly cast here as a cold blooded, square jawed, iron willed marine sergeant who rides his platoon hard. Raw recruit James Mitchum more than anyone else.
It’s 1944 as O’Brian and his small unit of troops arrive in the Philippines. Making their way through the dense jungles they must dodge Japanese soldiers on the lookout for the return of MacArthur and his forces. They are to meet up with a contact who will lead them to safe ground and give them the valuable information they need to radio back to their own forces. Young Mitchum is the radio operator who must be protected along with his equipment at all costs.
Chief second to O’Brian is Mickey Rooney as a gruff sergeant. On one hand he’s O’Brian’s best friend while on the other he’s trying to help out our tenderfoot Mitchum. I love Mickey during his character actor period. He still played various leads but did some great co-starring parts in the fifties and sixties in films like this and The Bridges at Toko-ri. He had the world weariness about him by this time.
The group of marines suffer assorted casualties before finally meeting up with their underground connection in the form of beautiful Tisa Chang. With the Japanese forces closing in Rooney stands tall while Mitchum has his radio shot out from under him. It looks like we may have to go into the enemies camp for the required equipment.
On location filming here adds to the flavor of jungle warfare in this Ron Winston directed film. Winston was mainly a television director working on sixties shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Hugh O’Brian dabbled alternately between both television and films. He was of course Wyatt Earp during the western craze but appeared in films ranging from Ten Little Indians to The Shootist. He even turned up in the hit comedy Twins.
Young James Mitchum is a dead ringer for his father Robert and has the voice to match. Alas, he lacks the charisma and laid back acting approach that worked so well for Robert during his long career.
Mickey seemed well suited to this type of film at this point in his career. He also turned up in another war film titled The Secret Invasion just before this WW2 actioner from of all people, Roger Corman.
Plenty of action here for the war film fans with O’Brian and Rooney making the mission that much better for our viewing pleasure.