Suicide Battalion (1958)

79 mins | Drama | 26 February 1958

Director:

Edward L. Cahn

Writer:

Lou Rusoff

Producer:

Lou Rusoff

Cinematographer:

Floyd Crosby

Editor:

Robert S. Eisen

Production Designer:

Don Ament

Production Company:

Zuma Productions
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Hell Raiders . According to HR news items, John Ashley was serving in the Army at the time of the film's production, requiring official military approval of the script before a furlough was granted allowing Ashley to complete his role. Suicide Battalion marked the dramatic acting debut for Hawaiian singer Hilo Hattie, although she had appeared as a singer-performer in several films following her motion picture debut in 1942 in Song of the Islands ( see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). ... More Less

The working title of the film was Hell Raiders . According to HR news items, John Ashley was serving in the Army at the time of the film's production, requiring official military approval of the script before a furlough was granted allowing Ashley to complete his role. Suicide Battalion marked the dramatic acting debut for Hawaiian singer Hilo Hattie, although she had appeared as a singer-performer in several films following her motion picture debut in 1942 in Song of the Islands ( see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Apr 1958.
---
Daily Variety
20 Mar 58
p. 4.
Film Daily
2 Apr 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1957
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1957
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1957
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 58
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Feb 58
p. 725.
Variety
26 Mar 58
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hell Raiders
Release Date:
26 February 1958
Production Date:
November 1957 at Ziv Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Zuma Productions
Copyright Date:
3 February 1958
Copyright Number:
LP10247
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79
Length(in feet):
7,108
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18913
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Soon after the United States enters World War II, American forces in the Pacific are locked in a struggle with the Japanese for the island of Baluyanna. When an American outpost under the command of Col. Craig falls to the Japanese, the Americans are forced to withdraw to the southern end of the small island. Craig then orders Maj. Matt McCormick of the Engineer Corp to return to the northern end of the island with a squad of volunteers and destroy his former command post, which contains an underground bomb shelter housing vital U. S. intelligence records on guerilla activity and weapons supplies on islands throughout the Pacific. Craig confesses to Matt that the Army has begun evacuating the island, but assures him that they will provide as much aid as possible. Matt then asks that the volunteers be granted seventy-two hours leave and three weeks back pay. After Craig agrees, Matt requests that Lt. Chet Hall, a top munitions expert, select the men for the mission. Chet rounds up a demolitions squad consisting of young Tommy Novello, who longs to see his girl friend Cho Cho in the nearby town of Banichi; the practical Harry Donovan; cynical Wally Skilzowski; and amiable Marty Green. Having heard of the evacuation, the men initially resist Chet’s plea that they volunteer, but all are won over by the inducements of immediate leave and back pay. Later, Chet is disheartened to learn that he will not lead the mission but will be subordinate to Matt, who he believes is an ideal but heartless officer. The men receive their pay and immediately drive ... +


Soon after the United States enters World War II, American forces in the Pacific are locked in a struggle with the Japanese for the island of Baluyanna. When an American outpost under the command of Col. Craig falls to the Japanese, the Americans are forced to withdraw to the southern end of the small island. Craig then orders Maj. Matt McCormick of the Engineer Corp to return to the northern end of the island with a squad of volunteers and destroy his former command post, which contains an underground bomb shelter housing vital U. S. intelligence records on guerilla activity and weapons supplies on islands throughout the Pacific. Craig confesses to Matt that the Army has begun evacuating the island, but assures him that they will provide as much aid as possible. Matt then asks that the volunteers be granted seventy-two hours leave and three weeks back pay. After Craig agrees, Matt requests that Lt. Chet Hall, a top munitions expert, select the men for the mission. Chet rounds up a demolitions squad consisting of young Tommy Novello, who longs to see his girl friend Cho Cho in the nearby town of Banichi; the practical Harry Donovan; cynical Wally Skilzowski; and amiable Marty Green. Having heard of the evacuation, the men initially resist Chet’s plea that they volunteer, but all are won over by the inducements of immediate leave and back pay. Later, Chet is disheartened to learn that he will not lead the mission but will be subordinate to Matt, who he believes is an ideal but heartless officer. The men receive their pay and immediately drive to Banichi, the home of the servicemen’s favorite club, Mama Lily’s. At the club, Tommy is disappointed not to find Cho Cho, who has been spirited away by her uncle, Papa Lily. Meanwhile, Matt reports to Capt. Hendry in Banichi and later, at the officers' bar, is disturbed to find journalist Peter Wayne of National Press Service and his photographer, Elizabeth Ann Mason. Matt rejects Wayne’s request to accompany the squad on the mission and, uncomfortable with Elizabeth’s similar plea, orders them both to evacuate. Noticing Chet’s interest in her, Elizabeth attempts to convince him to okay their request, but he avoids giving his approval. Back at Mama Lily’s, Tommy pleads with Papa Lily to see Cho Cho, whom he wants to marry, but Papa demands that Tommy provide a proper dowry first. As part of the dowry, Tommy rounds up a number of animals that he later shelters overnight in the squad’s small quarters. After Matt leaves the officers' bar, he reports to Craig, who tells him that a band of native guerrilla fighters have agreed to transport the squad off the island. On his return to camp, Matt runs into Elizabeth, who again asks to go with the men, prompting Matt to insist angrily that the endeavor is a suicide mission and he therefore refuses to accept responsibility for civilians. The next morning Tommy and the men return to Banichi with the dowry of money, animals and food, and Chet invites Elizabeth to photograph the men on leave. Meanwhile, the Japanese begin a bombing attack to drive off the last American forces from the island. Craig informs Matt that a diversionary tactic by the last remaining company has begun, thus creating an opening to the northern outpost. Matt then hastens to Banichi where he and Hendry worry about the heavy Japanese assault. Soon after, Craig’s position is attacked and destroyed. As the Japanese close in on Banichi, Matt is unable to locate the squad, which has gone to Cho Cho’s home for Tommy’s formal proposal. While the men lightheartedly set up a mock marriage between Tommy and Cho Cho, Matt searches for them at Mama Lily’s. When several Japanese soldiers arrive at the club, one of the dancing girls hides Matt, then provides him with a jeep and directions to Cho Cho’s home. Just as Matt meets the squad outside of Banichi, Hendry and his camp are overrun by the Japanese. Matt is angry to find Elizabeth with the men, but acknowledges that she must come with them because the area is controlled by the Japanese. After retrieving the explosives, the squad drive two jeeps through the jungle toward the outpost. Upon settling near the post for the night, Matt gives Elizabeth a pistol for her protection, then apologizes for his brusqueness and admits that he is deeply worried about her safety because he admires her. Before dawn, the squad prepares to move out while Matt instructs Elizabeth to drive to the coast if the squad fails to return. When Elizabeth and Matt embrace, Chet is overcome with jealousy and attacks Matt. Realizing Chet must get his animosity out of his system, Matt allows Chet to best him. The squad then splits up into pairs to attack the outpost from various sides. Marty and Tommy form one team and when Tommy is wounded fighting a Japanese patrol, Marty goes for help. After Marty leaves, the Japanese find Tommy and kill him. As Chet and Wally make their way to the post, they are also attacked and Wally is killed. Marty and Chet then team up to guard Matt and Harry, who have reached the outpost. As Matt sets up the explosives, Harry is stabbed by a Japanese attacker. While dragging Harry to safety, Matt is also stabbed in the back. After Marty is killed by the Japanese patrol, Chet races to the outpost and sets off the explosives, then pulls Matt and Harry to safety. After Harry dies, Chet helps Matt back to their rendezvous site in time to rescue Elizabeth from a Japanese attack. Chet then drives Elizabeth and Matt to the guerrilla camp. Admitting that he stands no romantic chance with Elizabeth, Chet wishes her and Matt luck as they all prepare to evacuate the island. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.