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Film / Bataan

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Bataanis a 1943 American black-and-white World War II propaganda film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, produced by Irving Starr (with Dore Schary as executive producer), directed by Tay Garnett. Starring Robert Taylor, George Murphy, Thomas Mitchell, and Lloyd Nolan, the film follows a ragtag group of soldiers trying to hold back the Japanese army during the 1941 invasion of the Philippines.

Tropes that appear in this film:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: There are 13 soldiers who are left to hold the Japanese. None are left by the end of the film.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Todd reveals himself as Danny Burns while dying of his wounds.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Ramirez is a fan of swing trombonist Tommy Dorsey, and rigs up a radio so the troops can listen, bringing some levity to their lonely vigil.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: A prop example. The IMFDB page shows that Dane's Colt 1911 pistol is a mocked-up Colt Detective Special revolver.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All the soldiers are killed, but they managed to slow the Japanese down enough for the Americans to regroup.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Zigzagged; Epps is one of the last soldiers to die, but the first in the Final Battle. And there's a zigzag there since Feingold is mortally wounded first, but takes a longer time to die while Epps is pretty much killed instantly.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Fresh-faced West Point graduate Captain Lassiter is the smooth while stoic and gruff Sergeant Bill Dane is the rough.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bentley's plane, which is used for a Suicide Attack late in the film.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the opening scene, the camera lingers on a pretty nurse. Later on when Captain Lassiter is buried, it's revealed that she was his wife.
  • Choke Holds: Todd kills a Japanese soldier by strangling him with the strap of a gun.
  • Clothing Damage: Todd's uniform is ripped to shreds by the intense fighting in the Final Battle.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Salazar is hanged by the Japanese, who leave his body close by for the rest to find.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Dane in the last minutes of the film.
  • Due to the Dead: The Japanese allow Dane some time to bury the rest of his men before moving in for the kill.
  • Dwindling Party: The 13 soldiers are picked off one by one over the course of the film; most by the Japanese, but others by disease.
    • Captain Lassiter: Shot by a Japanese sniper.
    • Pvt. Francis X. Matowski: Shot in the head, falling into the ravine.
    • Cpl. Juan Katigbak: Stabbed with a katana.
    • Pvt. Sam Malloy: Mowed down by a Japanese fighter plane in a strafing run.
    • Pvt. Yankee Salazar: Hanged offscreen by Japanese soldiers, with his body left for the other soldiers to find.
    • Pvt. Felix Ramirez: Dies from malaria.
    • Lt. Steve Bentley: Flies his plane into the bridge to destroy it.
    • Pvt. Matthew Hardy: Dies from fever and gunshot wounds.
    • Cpl. Jake Feingold: Shot by Japanese soldiers.
    • Pvt. Wesley Epps: Partially decapitated by a katana.
    • Seaman Leonard Purckett: Shot by a Japanese sniper.
    • Cpl. Barney Todd/Danny Burns: Stabbed by a Japanese soldier.
    • Sgt. Bill Dane: Killed Offscreen by Japanese soldiers.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Malloy manages to shoot down a Japanese fighter before being killed.
  • Faking the Dead: Todd is killed by a Japanese soldier who was pretending to be dead. Said Japanese soldier winds up being dead for real thanks to Dane.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Katigbak's corpse isn't shown through the fog. The only part of him that's seen is the katana that killed him.
    • During the Final Battle, Epps is shown being struck in the back of the neck with a katana, but the camera cuts away before he's decapitated.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: Happens a couple times in the Final Battle when Japanese soldiers throw grenades into the squad's choke point and they have to Catch and Return.
  • Grenade Spam: The second attempt to destroy the bridge involves Dane and Todd throwing grenades at a truck trying to build the bridge. They succeed.
  • Have We Met?: Dane has a suspicion that Todd is a soldier named Danny Burns, who committed a murder that sullied Dane's reputation. Todd reveals his identity while dying of his wounds.
  • Heroic Suicide: A mortally-wounded Bentley loads his plane up with dynamite and flies it into the bridge, blowing it up.
  • Hold the Line: The entire film is spent trying to keep the Japanese Army from crossing a ravine until General MacArthur can regroup. The last few minutes of the film escalate the situation into a Last Stand, which is taken up to eleven with Dane left all alone, digging his grave and firing away while surrounded by the Japanese as the credits roll.
  • I Can Still Fight!: The dangerously ill Ramirez still picks up a rifle and tries to shoot down one of the Japanese fighter planes.
  • Ironic Echo: Purckett complains about Dane not allowing him to play Taps whenever someone dies. However, a version of Taps is heard when Purckett himself dies.
  • Jerkass: Barney Todd is a bully who clashes with everyone.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: Sgt. Dane remembers that Danny Burns, the murderer who ruined Dane's career, was a left-handed baseball thrower. One of the soldiers, Barney Todd, throws left-handed as shown when he and Dane blow up the bridge with grenades. Dane decides not to act on this information and ultimately doesn't have to since Todd is killed in the Final Battle, though Todd admits his true identity as he dies.
  • The Medic: Matthew Hardy is a conscientious objector in the Medical Corps.
  • New Meat: Leonard Purckett is a naive, bright-faced seaman (lowest Navy rank).
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Todd kills a Japanese soldier, puts his own helmet on the soldier, and props him up behind a rock so the Japanese machine gunner will think he's an enemy soldier while Todd sneaks around to blow the machine gun team up with a grenade.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Dane takes out a trio of Japanese soldiers during the Final Battle when he shoots one of them, causing the enemy soldier to drop his grenade and blow up two of his comrades.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Used with Lassiter and Matowski, both of whom are shot in the head and leave behind a small hole with a trickle of blood.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The film centers around 13 soldiers who are separated from their various commands and put together for one purpose: hold the Japanese Army until General MacArthur can regroup.
  • Rule of Three: The bridge is blown up three times: Once at the beginning, once by Dane and Todd throwing grenades, and a third time with Bentley's plane.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Dane's friend and companion Feingold is the first to be killed in the Final Battle.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The final shot of the film is of Dane firing his gun into the camera at offscreen Japanese soldiers.
  • Secret-Keeper: Bentley is the only one who knew that Captain Lassier had a Wartime Wedding before he died.
  • See the Whites of Their Eyes: As the Japanese soldiers approach for the Final Battle, Dane tells the rest of the Americans to wait until the opposing army is right on top of them, with Purckett mentioning this trope almost by name.
  • Sergeant Rock: Bill Dane is a tough-as-nails sergeant who steps up as leader.
  • Sole Survivor: Purckett is the only surviving crewman of his ship when it sunk.
  • Straight for the Commander: Captain Lassiter is the first soldier killed.
  • Taps: Purckett wanted to play this at Captain Lassier's funeral, but Dane tells him no, otherwise the Japanese will start counting how many Americans die.
  • Team Chef: Malloy. Feingold doesn't think much of his food though.
  • War Is Hell: Combined with War Is Glorious. The film doesn't shy away from the unpleasant side of war; they're low on supplies and morale, Ramirez dies of disease, there's quite a bit of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, and their opposite number is shown to be exceptionally cruel as shown what happens to Salazar. The War Is Glorious part comes in at the very end in which it's stated that last-ditch efforts like these make the war's later victories possible.
  • Wartime Wedding: It's revealed Captain Lassiter married a nurse shortly before his death.
  • Weapon Tombstone: As the soldiers are killed, each grave is marked with his helmet and machete.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Dane breaks one of the rifles he uses during the Final Battle.
  • You Are in Command Now: Dane after Captain Lassiter is killed.