Although I tend to focus on the European Theater in WWII, the world war was fought all around the globe. One theater of war that tends to be forgotten was the “CBI” or China-Burma-India Theater. Not many movies were made about this theater. “Objective, Burma!” starring Errol Flynn is set in Burma and “Flying Tigers” starring John Wayne is set in China. These are good movies, but they aren’t my favorites. My list includes non-navy films set in Hawaii, The Philippines, Burma, and islands in the Pacific.
5. From Here to Eternity (1953)
Set in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the lead up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, “From Here to Eternity” is an iconic film that everyone should see. The ensemble cast consists of Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Cliff, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed and Ernest Borgnine. There’s no way I could leave this one out of my top five.
4. Father Goose (1964)
Cary Grant (one of my favorites) plays a coast watcher alone on an island when Leslie Caron and a dozen young girls are stranded there. Grant and Caron clash as Grant has to take responsibility for a group of females. Although there are Japanese attacks on the island, this fun film could be called a Rom-Com. A very enjoyable movie.
3. Never So Few (1959)
You may not be familiar with this film, but it is one of my favorites. It stars Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen along with Paul Henreid, Gina Lolobridgeda, Peter Lawford, Charles Bronson and Dean Jones. Set in Burma, Sinatra leads a special operations group that joins with the locals to fight the Japanese. The fighting in the jungles of Burma may remind some of Vietnam.
2. They Were Expendable (1945)
Set in The Philippines when the Japanese invade right after Pearl Harbor, it stars John Wayne, Robert Montgomery, Donna Reed and Ward Bond. Wayne and Montgomery command torpedo boats who attack the Japanese as well as serve as messengers between the islands. Reed, a nurse and Wayne’s love interest, evacuates to Corregidor. As the Japanese take over the islands, the torpedo boats are ordered to transport General MacArthur and his family to a waiting submarine. As the title suggests, these men were expendable, left to fight a guerilla war alongside the locals.
1 Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Some of you may not be familiar with this film. I highly recommend that you find it and watch it. Filled with drama, action and poignant personal relationships, The movie stars Robert Mitchum as a stranded sailor who washes up on the beach of a South Pacific Island to find Deborah Kerr, a nun, its only inhabitant. Mitchum hides and protects Kerr when the Japanese occupy the island again. The movie is almost a love story except that Kerr remains loyal to her vows and Mitchum respects her decision as he sabotages the Japanese installation. Now I want to watch it again.