This disturbing WWII film focuses on the survivors of a battle-decimated brigade as they try to make their way through the Burmese jungle to rejoin the main British force. Led by Baker, the survivors come upon a village where they surprise a small Japanese detachment. Found on a dead
Japanese colonel is a coded map that details future Japanese battle strategy. Baker interrogates a captured Burmese agent, demanding an explanation of the code. The prisoner refuses to talk, so Baker carries through a threat to shoot two innocent villagers. In the wake of these executions, the
prisoner confesses all. Rolfe and McKern, a priest and reporter, respectively, are appalled by Baker's sadistic actions. Baker tries to get the information to divisional headquarters, but he and his men are captured by Japanese troops. Now Baker is on the receiving end of similar torture. When
Baker refuses to talk, the Japanese kill him and his men.
YESTERDAY'S ENEMY takes an unflinching look at the effects of war on the human psyche. Applying their own standards to a situation unlike any either of them has experienced, Rolfe and McKern are unable to fathom Baker's actions. Yet there is no right and wrong in Baker's act. Instead, his
brutality is depicted as an evil that has become necessary at a specific moment. The perverse irony of war then reverses the entire situation. Guest's direction is excellent--particularly his skillful building of tension--and the ensemble performances are riveting. Though shot in the studio, the
film is highly realistic, putting the viewer in the midst of the Burmese jungle.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This disturbing WWII film focuses on the survivors of a battle-decimated brigade as they try to make their way through the Burmese jungle to rejoin the main British force. Led by Baker, the survivors come upon a village where they surprise a small Japanese… (more)