Ambush Bay Ron Winston

At first, there's nothing particularly wrong with Ambush Bay; it's nothing special, but it's well-crafted and moves pretty nicely. All is well as a particularly green marine (James Mitchum, the spitting image of his brother Robert) tags along on a mission to find a contact with information on MacArthur's coming invasion of the Philippines. Nothing is wrong as the first casualties happen, Mitchum faces the scorn of his fellow soldiers and they discover a secret underwater minefield that must be destroyed. But as the film goes on its impersonally professional way it becomes obvious that it's not about anything other than itself, and suddenly you're annoyed by the cliché story beats and pompous invocations of bravery and courage. You start noticing every improbability (paunchy Mickey Rooney as a career marine) and outright fabrication (the self-sacrificing Japanese-American apparently unfazed by her family's internment) because there's absolutely nothing else going on but the central narrative thread and whether or not it will go off without a hitch. One can vaguely recommend Ron Winston's slick direction for not boring you into a stupor, and perhaps Mitchum's brief moment out of the shadow of his brother, but other than that it's pretty standard and largely devoid of conviction. The filmmakers know the path they're supposed to take, and they follow it without deviation. I if you like this sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like, but anyone looking for something special is advised to look anywhere else. By the time our hero is staring off plaintively into the surf while the "I have returned" speech plays in the background, you'll be as happy as I was to see an end to hostilities. (MGM)