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The Battle of Bataan followed the Japanese December, 1941 invasion of the Philippines and
lasted from January 1 to April 9, 1942. In this action, the unified United States and
Philippine forces retreated from Manila onto the nearby, mountainous Bataan peninsula for
a desperate last stand. There was hope that a relief would arrive, but none could be mustered.
After 3 months of desperate fighting, the starving and malaria-ridden forces surrendered and
were led on the infamous Bataan Death March. In the movie, the US Army is conducting a fighting
retreat. A high bridge spans a ravine on the Bataan peninsula. After the army and some civilians
cross, a group of thirteen hastily-assembled soldiers is assigned to blow it up and prevent the
Japanese from rebuilding it as long as possible. They dig in on a hillside and successfully
demolish the bridge, but their commander, Captain Henry Lassiter (Lee Bowman), is killed by a
sniper in the process. One by one, the defenders die, with one succumbing to malaria. Felix
Ramirez (Desi Arnaz) and pilot Lieutenant Steve Bentley (played by future Senator George Murphy)
work frantically to repair a damaged airplane. They succeed, but Bentley is mortally wounded. In
his last few moments, he manages to take off and intentionally crash his plane into the bridge.
The last few soldiers repel a massive frontal assault. Two more are killed by Japanese soldiers
who are feigning death. In the end, the last survivor, Sergeant Bill Dane (Robert Taylor),
stoically digs his own marked grave beside those of his fallen comrades, stands within it, and
fires his machine gun at the onrushing enemy as the final credits roll.
Robert Taylor, George Murphy, Thomas Mitchell, Robert Walker, Desi Arnaz,
Director: Tay Garnett
Producer: Irving Starr
Year Released - June 1943
Length - 114 minutes
Music Composers: Bronislau Kaper & Eric Zeisl
Movie Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer & the
United States Office of War Information
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