Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1942. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Story by Charles Hoffman, Adaptation by Walter Reisch, Screenplay by Marguerite Roberts. Cinematography by Harold Rosson. Produced by Pandro S. Berman. Music by Bronislau Kaper. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Robert Kalloch. Film Editing by Frank E. Hull.
War propaganda rarely works this hard at pleasing its entire audience, providing romance, political intrigue and heroic battle all in one gorgeously shot, somewhat confused package. Clark Gable and Robert Sterling play brothers, never credibly, who are both journalists anxious to fire their readers up over the brewing war situation. They are also both at odds with their editor who is still playing the isolationist game, but their professional rivalry gets personal when Sterling falls in love with an aspiring reporter (Lana Turner) and plans to marry her but Gable turns her head his way. She gets out of their dramatic triangle by going to China to help orphans, but the boys follow her across the Pacific and are reunited in Manila, where they are all broiling in their sexual frustration when Pearl Harbor gets America into the war. The turns of fortune that follow, having one brother stay in the Philippines to report for the Chronicle while the other enlists, eventually sees the film turn into a war movie about the battle of Bataan in which human hearts are declared unimportant in the face of more important issues. The film’s heart is always in the right place, but the characters have no chemistry and the constant shift in focus is confusing. Gable’s wife Carole Lombard died in a plane crash promoting War Bonds during filming, delaying production and release.