Too Late the Hero (1970) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A WWII film set on a Pacific island. Japanese and allied forces occupy different parts of the island. When a group of British soldiers are sent on a mission behind enemy lines, things don't go exactly to plan. This film differs in that some of the 'heros' are very reluctant, but they come good when they are pursued by the Japanese who are determined to prevent them returning to base. Runtime: 145 mins Release Date: 02 Sep 1970
Where Eagles Dare, Guns Of Navarone, Heroes Of Telemark, Play Dirty ..and what's this? (by Freddy_Levit)
It started with films like 'Lost Patrol' and 'Objective, Burma', but completely exploded into a sub-genre with the likes of 'The Guns Of Navarone' and 'Bridge On The River Kwai', these two films creating such momentum that for the next two decades the sub-genre ruled box office draws like a tornado. What made these films special? For one, they were usually set in far away, exotic, dangerous and exciting places. Places you never even heard of, so remote, not even the characters in the film knew where they were. But this still is not a sufficient explanation to <more>
why we find these films appealing. No, they're appealing because of the men. Send a group of men far away on a mission behind enemy lines, where the minutest mistake could be the difference between life and death, and you have a 'time bomb'. Characters are vital for the success of these films. Each in the unit must have a different background, be flawed in some way, have a weakness and strength. Only together they will succeed in achieving their goal. We love to listen to the briefings, objectives and the planning phase and we enjoy watching the selection process because we anticipate that by the end we will know these men like they were our own brothers. Once deployed, the film really begins and we are in for an adventure of a lifetime. We know what the men must do, but we don't know how. And once there is opposition among the men, the tension really begins. Subconsciously, after watching the men interact and counteract and delve deeper behind enemy territory toward their goal, you cannot help but feel you are part of a unit. Your only world is the group. They are your family. And voilà, magic! Rarely has a sub-genre such as this been defined so well as by the classic "Too Late The Hero". It has it all. Exotic jungle, hot weather, rugged terrain, arrogant men from all walks of life, impossible mission orders, uncharted territory and a mighty enemy. No silly actresses or damsels in distress for comic or tragic relief, this film is like Rorke's Drift in the tropics. Everyone is tough and if they're not tough, tough luck, because once behind enemy lines there is no turning back. And this film has the most colorful ensemble of character actors I've ever seen. Cliff Robertson plays that lackluster turned reluctant hero character he's so good at playing. Michael Caine eats the scenery as the Cockney loud-mouth. Denholm Elliott is still lost in his own museum. Harry Andrews and Henry Fonda play themselves which isn't a bad thing as they both deserve all accolades they ever received . Supporting cast is made of character actors playing roles that range from 'slum rat' unreliable type to 'strictly by-the-book' stiff-upper-lip type, from paranoid, insecure type to hard-as-nails tough S.O.B. Denholm Elliott falls into all categories throughout the film as the mission takes its toll on his nerves.The film's setup is so riveting. You have an island situated somewhere in the pacific. Two settlements both on opposite sides of the island, both represent the enemy to the other. The Americans have sent one of theirs on a mission that is as daring as the quest for the Golden Fleece. A unit of British soldiers is assembled when the American arrives to the island's southern settlement, a settlement surrounded by an oval of grass clearing to allow for a visible barrier around the settlement . The men set off, their objective being to locate a radio-tower at the Japanese settlement on the other side of the island and neutralize it. Why not just send planes to raid it by air? The Japanese will hear them coming and will radio for reinforcements. This is not what the British want. A complete element of surprise is crucial to finding the radio and destroying it, so that when a British ship passes the Japanese settlement, no transmissions can be made for help. This means the brave soldiers must walk into the lion's den. Led by the American Cliff Robertson , they must cut their way through humid, sticky, wet, dense jungle completely unnoticed for miles, through night and day, and find the settlement, the radio tower, blow it to smithereens, neutralize the enemy and run for their lives back to base .back to where they started, with the impenetrable jungle, and the invisible mines and soldiers camouflaged by the green in between them and freedom. But if that were not enough, the tension and confusion between the men builds to such intensity that mutiny seems inevitable.If you're looking for a jungle suspense fest, you've found the film you're looking for. The whole cast delivers. You finish the film feeling worn out, tired, secure and relieved ..the kind of relief you get when you feel free and safe .the actors pull it off so convincingly that you could almost taste their sweat. It's sheer brilliance and an amazing realization of heroism. The direction was claustrophobic and fast-paced, as was the desperate dialog between the men. The script consistently holds your attention, never letting go, always leaving you on the edge-of-your-seat until the powerful finale. One of the greatest complements to the film was the lack or little use of music. This is used to great effect as the REAL music comes in the form of snapping twigs, leaves moving, water trickles, bird chirping and other wildlife .and absolute MAYHEM. But the greatest monument to the film, the force behind its very success, is the combined efforts of all actors involved. They MADE the film. It's completely character driven .it's about the men ..about the heroics of those who never thought they could accomplish anything, who under the odds accomplished everything.If you're getting a little tired of watching Colin Farrell, Will Smith and Brad Pitt, borrow this film and relive a time when films were made with professional actors ..not bum fluff.
In this war movie two years after 'The Dirty Dozen' Robert Aldrich interferes in heroism a notch better than before. 'Too Late the Hero' has been left maybe too much in the shadow of 'The Dozen' and it is a pity, because it does seem much more cohesive and stronger picture. Filmed in the jungles of the Philippines it brings forward the harsh realities of warfare towards ordinary soldiers so heavily that it might have been Coppola's 'Apocalypse. Now.' and Oliver Stone's 'Platoon' which next time showed such madness as convincingly.The restless <more>
and quarreling group of soldiers appear at first like an odd sports team in their military camp near the Japanese enemy. Returning patrols are forced to cross a large open field between the jungle and their camp and to become running targets for the enemy fire. Watching this seems like some twisted game or a mad sports event. The next mission to the jungle almost instantly turns into hell for a group of British and a yank. Thanks to the strong cast, Aldrich's direction and an astounding soundtrack one fully feels the heat, the jungle and the tension of the men caused by fear and fatigue. We are shown intensely what war can bring out in soldiers. The weariness of the reluctant group is increased even more by their pompous leader who disobeys original orders for his blind ambition and stupidity. And the continuing general pickering between the men instead of belonging doesn't help either. The final solution for any significant succession or benefit from the mission is set on two soldiers; Michael Caine as a jokey but sensible cockney and Cliff Robertson as the yank. While the enemy is closing in, their final run through the jungle and the field becomes a sort of "touchdown of a lifetime", literally.Made during the era of Vietnam war this is one of the strongest films and statements about war in general that I have encountered for a long time. As the the Japanese officer states in the movie about "having to take desperate measures in war", we are not only made to see this but also very much to feel it. Take it as a film with a strong message or just a piece of merciless action, it delivers in every way.
Film Makers in Hollywood weren`t allowed to make anti-vietnam war films in the late 60`s , early 70`s so they decided to make allegories instead. Famous examples are MASH and SOLDIER BLUE. What strikes me is that no one ever refers to this great war film as the definitive Hollywood proxy Nam statement.The story is simple : Soldiers carry out dangerous mission. But these soldiers are badly led and totally reluctant to carry out their duty. They`d rather " frag " their commander and go home than earn medals . And war isn`t shown as a glorious thing , it`s brutal , dehumanising and <more>
most of all terrifying. Also watch out for the very humane portrayal of the enemy officer. Is it sympathy for the Japanese or the Vietnamese that he`s shown this way ?I could point out all the things I love about this film but it`d take too long. The only two things I disliked about TOO LATE THE HERO was a couple of plot holes. First one`s the fact that the Japanese are good at stopping the enemy from escaping the jungle but are totally hopeless at letting them enter it in the first place ! A major strategic mistake I`d have thought. Secondly Lawson decides he wants to carry out his mission after all which turns him into a bit of a cliche. But don`t let that put you off. TOO LATE THE HERO is compelling , bloody and intelligent.
Too Late the Hero is a cynical war adventure with a set of rather unsavoury, antagonistic characters caught in an unforgiving, hot environment where they risk being embushed at any time by Japanese soldiers. It manages to stay interesting for two hours until building up into a fabulous, exciting finale. Not a big soldiers action film like The Dirty Dozen or Platoon, Too Late the Hero is nevertheless my favourite of the genre, although it took a couple of watchings to appreciate the simple, yet original, intelligent plot development, the realistic, yet interesting and even at times amusing <more>
dialogue and characters for instance, Caine telling Robertson in his cockney accent: "now what's got you jumping about like a frog with a bullet up his ass.." and the suspenseful and well-made action sequences. It is not always easy for this kind of film to retain a kind of unsentimental realism and be entertaining at the same time. Yet, Too Late the Hero does it. While they are not particularly sympathetic characters there are none in the film, except maybe for the Japanese major , Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine manage to become likeable anti-heroes in their own way, each giving excellent performances; American Robertson wondering what the hell he is doing among a rough bunch of Brits fighting the Japanese on a Pacific island until he decides to find his destiny as a hero, and Caine as a brash, cynical, rude, insubordinate and altogether hilarious cockney, mainly concerned about saving his skin. Too Late the Hero does not dwell into making an elaborate anti-war statement. It takes for granted that war is hell and any sane man would just worry about surviving like Caine, Robertson or most of the other soldiers on an increasingly suicidal mission - not as the leader of the group, brilliantly played by Denholm Elliott, who appears suspect and foolish for trying to maintain traditional combat values and discipline. The interactions between Robertson and his unfriendly British companions add to the interest and credibility of the film, while the unusual chase through the jungle and its exciting conclusion contribute to its originality. Not the best war film ever, but a unique one.
The reluctant "volunteer" theme in the movie about an American Japanese linguist is dead-on. As an ex Viet Nam veteran and linguist, I really enjoyed the story. I also enjoyed the British/American differing views on combat.Ex: Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine
War picture with a lot of personal meaning! (by sullymangolf)
This movie is a personal one for me. I was a high school student at George Dewey H.S., Subic Bay, Philippines from 1968-70. My buddies and I were extras in the movie when it was made out there. We would cut classes and our principal would come out to the movie set to take our names down. We got in trouble when we got back, but this was a once in a lifetime deal. We were paid $12 a day. It was cheaper to use off-duty sailors and marines as well as the high school guys as extras than to pay for extras to be flown in from the U.S. We picked up buses from various parts of the base early in the <more>
morning and were taken to the naval magazine where the movie was being filmed. We were out from 6:00 A.M. to about 4:00 P.M. I remember the prop people built this fantastic set with huts and a fake stone church that was used as the Colonel's headquarters. It was nicer than the huts the Filipino people lived in and they wanted to keep them after the movie was finished. They had to be torn down though because of insurance purposes. They had brought these British Army uniforms for us to wear but they were new and looked too good so they ran over them with trucks to give them a rough look. To this day I remember many wild times on the set. Once when Cliff Robertson arrived at the base and was in the Colonel's headquarters, the director Mr. Aldridge yelled at myself and a buddy because we were playing our acoustic guitars too loudly on top of the fake stone church and it could be heard during the scene. I guess Hendrix music was not around in WW2. Another time between takes, Michael Caine and his buddies were on the steps of a building and he started to sing "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. Everyone sang along. It was great and to this day whenever I hear that song it takes me back to that great time! that was 37 years ago One of the side actors brought along his girlfriend and she ran around on the beach in her bikini. That was indeed a great sight as sailors, marines and high school kids took breaks from the set to hang out on the beach. I remember meeting the British actor with the broken nose who was in "Flight of the Phoenix" with Jimmy Stewart. He was in the movie and seemed to be a nice guy. A Philippine patrol boat parked at the beach dock. They were kind enough to let us dive off their boat into the water during lunch breaks. Some of the guys earned $18 a day by lying in an open field being dead bodies. These were the soldiers from the movie who were shot by the Japanese snipers. There was a fire on the set one day and shooting had to be stopped. They repaired the set and the movie went on. Parts of the movie were shot near our base hospital on the mountain at Cubi Point in the jungle. These were the scenes where the commando team was in the jungle on the mission. The movie people would party at the Officer's Club at Cubi. It was not well received by all the officers. The movie guys had long hair and dressed very casually, and the marine fighter pilots did not care for this group. I did not hear of any fights though. My buddy next door to our quarters had Michael Caine and some others over for a home cooked dinner. It was well received. It was a great time to be in the Philippines back in those days. After we finished our tour out there we went back to a naval base at Pax River, Maryland. I went up to New York to visit my aunt and she took me to see the movie. It was pretty good. I especially enjoyed it since I could see all my buddies walking around in the background with rifles or just hanging out. It was a great movie and I must say it was filmed in the real jungle setting with snakes and all. No Hollywood back-set here!
Too Late the Hero is directed by Robert Aldrich who also co-writes the screenplay with Lukas Heller and Robert Sherman. It stars Michael Caine, Cliff Robertson, Henry Fonda, Ken Takakura, Denholm Elliott, Lance Percival, Ronald Fraser and Ian Bannen. Music is by Gerald Fried and cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc.Lawson Cliff Robertson is an American naval officer who specialises in Asiatic languages, thus he is sent to a Pacific island to assist a group of British soldiers on what seems a routine mission. The mission is to simply knock out the Japanese army's key transmitter, but as the <more>
men get deeper into the jungle terrain it becomes obvious that the odds of survival are minimal at best. With inner fighting escalating and a hostile enemy closing in fast, it's a time for heroes to be born and friendships to be laid bare.Often, and wrongly, considered a weak attempt by Aldrich to cash in on the success of his Dirty Dozen movie three years earlier, Too Late the Hero had been written some ten year previously. Although some way away from the gutsy grandeur and bulging biceps of The Dirty Dozen, TLTH is still a potent war movie. Often claustrophobic in mood and acerbic in war character observations, film holds narrative attention from first reel to last. Bursts of violence drift in and out of the plot to keep things on the boil, but it's the excellently drawn characterisations of the major players that stops this from merely being another run of the mill "insanity of war" movie. It's also nice to find the Japanese are portrayed as an intelligent foe, and not the irksome machine gun fodder so rife in other films of the ilk. It helps to have Takakura turning in a stoic performance as part of the latter, too.Some other astute reviewers has given this film a tag line of it being a unique war film, not a truer line has been typed on the internet forums. This film, tho not bringing anything new by way of the psychological aspects of men under duress, always remains a thoroughly engrossing picture. Helmed by the criminally undervalued Aldrich, film boasts a ream of excellent performers making it unique by bringing to life a screenplay that's not pandering to any conformity's of the genre, it relies totally on strength of dialogue and character formations to capture our interest. Really the only charge from dissenters that might stick here is that it's arguably just another Vietnam allegory that the 70s seemed intent on giving us. Arguably, mind.It's a bloody suicide mission!That the cast list contains Michael Caine brilliant here with gritty swagger , Cliff Robertson, Denholm Elliott and a barely used Henry Fonda is of obvious interest from the start, but the ace card in Too Late The Hero's pack is with its supporting players, Ian Bannen, Harry Andrews, Ronald Fraser and a serious turn from comedy specialist, Lance Percival, where all of them in the sweltering confines of the Phillipines location manage to pull the viewer into the mix and fully realise the crispness of Aldrich's excellent screenplay; aided superbly by Biroc who manages to convey via his photography some apt sweaty jungle madness. Yes! This is not a film for those wanting guns a blazing at every turn, it's simply not that type of Gung-Ho picture, those bursts of action, while hitting hard, are swamped by the focused action of the human mind at work, the kind where greed, mistrust and a basic survival instinct are the order of the day.The set-up of the two opposing armies on this island is a bit daft, so some suspension of logic is needed from the off, while there's no escaping the fact that there are a number of war movie clichés within. Yet this is still potent stuff, a film with things to say and corrosive in its telling. Making for once, the negativity of such material, still a rewarding viewing experience. 8/10
Among finest of the lesser-known war movies **SPOILERS** (by naseby)
This story is seen as a Brit-flick, but it has to be said, was a fine American production, with the great Robert Aldrich at the helm. Previously having done the 'Dirty Dozen', a hard act to follow, a kind of 'Motley Crew', in came this film.A group, as I say of misfits, though not criminal are pitted with a neurotic officer, played well by Denholm Elliott, with American Lieutenant Cliff Robertson, the obligatory American to get the 'States audience to watch it, one would imagine Just like his star part in 633 Squadron along with the annoying but definitely watchable role <more>
for Michael Caine, one of his best in my opinion, even though it's not a million miles away from his true cockneyed accent! Nor the kind of parallel with the great film 'The Long and the Short and the Tall', with Laurence Harvey playing the loudmouth .The plan is thus, for the group/platoon to eliminate a Japanese radio/communications station on the 'other side' of the Pacific island they both occupy. The jungle terrain of the interior is brought to life with the atmosphere of the sweat and later blood throughout the film as the platoon battle forward.Robertson's Lieutenant is quite an eye-opener too. Much like the reluctant William Holden's 'officer' in the 'Bridge Over the River Kwai', although he's not a 'fake officer' like that part, he's still an incredible workshy, lazy, enjoying the sun, sea etc, as he's had the cushy job of only getting his commission due to the fact he's an interpreter. Now he has a rude awkening as, being an interpreter with regards to this Japanese radio problem he's duty-bound for his talent to accompany the platoon, into the interior of the island and with a gun. The nice thing about his role is, that although we had the impression his 'cush gig' is over, he actually makes a fine officer, with tactics and strategy etc all along being at odds with Caine Pte Hearne and the 'off his rocker' Hornby. Elliott As Hornby cops out, Robertson makes good. Hearne takes on as platoon medic making sarcastic and insulting, but sometimes valid comments all the way. "He's got about as much class as a syphillitic roadsweeper!" he says about one of his compadres! The platoon are also made up of some great British character actors putting in fine performances too. Ian Bannen as the Scots roughneck but keeping the likes of the slimy equally excellent Ronald Fraser in line is worth watching and of course the great Percy Herbert. Although some on IMDb have said they found the scenes too talky, I think they had this mix of action and words just right.The memorable scenes are the opener, which shows the remnants of the first platoon in the film 'coming in', across a wide opening from the jungle, trying to beat their Japanese pursuers to their lines, exhausted, bedraggled and zig-zagging to avoid the Jap machine gun fire, whilst all along their Brit chums on their line are shouting them on to get across. This is also where the film ends with the remnants of this present platoon and quite a shock twist. We see the only remaining members making for their lines and not knowing who is going to make it - the two that do are Caine and Robertson. Harry Andrews as the CO is then seen looking down at the only surviving platoon member - and lo and behold, it's Caine who gets up. All along I was thinking obviously the American is going to make it, but I was glad it was Caine - not because I am British or biased, but because I didn't think it was the typical ending I expected. Perhaps some Americans may say the same about Caine, as he's British and it was a British platoon, I don't know. But it was an enjoyable film all the same and one of the best, as I have said, lesser-known/publicised WW2 flicks.