Ambush Bay (1966) 




Director:  Ron Winston. 

Starring:  Hugh O'Brian (1st Sgt. Steve Corey), Mickey Rooney (Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Wartell), James Mitchum (Pfc. James Grenier), Peter Masterson (Platoon Sgt. William Maccone), Harry Lauter (Cpl. Alvin Ross), Gregg Amsterdam (Cpl. Stanley Parrish), Jim Anauo (Pfc. Henry Reynolds), Tony Smith (Pvt. George George), Clem Stadler (Capt. Alonzo Davis), Amado Abello (Manuel Amado), Juris Sulit (Midori), Max Quismundo (Max), Bruno Punzalan (Ramon), Tisa Chang (Miyazaki), Buff Fernandez (Lt. Tokuzo).

US marines on the Japanese-held Philippine island Mindanao try to hook up with Filipino guerillas



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Philippines. October 1944.  Mindanao (the second largest island in the Philippines and located at the southern end; it is bigger than 125 countries). 

A marine unit is up in the air in a seaplane.  Capt. Alonzo Davis, known as "Smokey", is the officer is charge.  He has been decorated at both Guadalcanal and Tarawa.  Second in command is First Sgt. Steve Corey, an outstanding warrior.  Cpl. Alvin Ross is excellent as a sniper.  19 year old PFC Henry Reynolds is the demolitions expert.   Platoon Sgt. William Maccone specializes in the use of the garrote.  Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Wartell is a career marine who is very good with the Thompson machine gun.  The knife expert is Cpl. Stanley Parrish.  PFC George George, who can see really well in the dark, may come in hand on this mission.  PFC James Grenier, air crewman radio specialist, but with only six months in the service is without combat experience. 

The seaplane sits down on the water and the men get into two rubber dinghies.    They row to shore.  Once on shore they meet up with their guide, Amado De Lesa.  They move out.  They come across a small group of Japanese soldiers around a campfire.  Smokey and Sgt. Corey put silencers on their weapons and open fire on the few men.  They kill three of the men, but there is another soldier who went to use the latrine.  The Japanese soldier gets his knife ready to attack.  He gets behind the captain and kills him.  He almost gets Corey too, but Corey catches him in time.  They fight hand to hand and Corey kills the soldier.  Corey has to tell the other men that the Captain is dead. 

The First Day.  The men climb up into the hills.  The men see a Japanese tank below them on a road.  The decision is to bypass the tank.  Some Japanese soldiers see movement in the bushes.  As the soldiers near, the Americans start shooting them.  The survivors jump into the forest and start returning fire.  The Americans slowly pick off one after another of the soldiers.  A marine is killed.  Reynolds, under the cover of a smoke grenade, plants an explosive on the Japanese tank and ignites it, but he is killed by the tank machine gun when he tries to run back to his men. The tanks explodes. 

The men move out, carrying two dead.  When they stop, they start digging two graves.  Grenier has a poor attitude and this brings Corey down on him.  The radio man says he wants to know what their mission is.  Things are turning nasty until Sgt. Wartell tells Grenier to help him with the grave digging.  Grenier says he can get pretty nasty if no one tells him the nature of their mission.  So Wartell tells him that they lost contact with a key man because his radio is out.  They are going to find the man and radio the information to headquarters.  The fellow is in a Japanese rest house in Pangassan.  Amado will go in to see him.  The Japanese are expecting MacArthur to land in the Philippines.  They may know when and where, so the marines have the next 38 hours to find out and relay the information back. 

The Japanese discover their dead soldiers by the campfire.  Amado is send up a ridge to check for the presence of the enemy.  Parrish is told to take point.  In the front Parrish runs right into a booby trap.  A branch with spikes place in it hits him right in the stomach area, killing him.  This trap was set by the Moros and was not meant for Americans, but Japanese.  At night they catch a Japanese prisoner of the Moros, who just recently escaped from his captors.  They decide to watch the fellow for the night and then decide what to do with him in the morning. 

The Second Day. Overnight the prisoner died.  The Japanese find the dead prisoner.  The Americans see the Japanese coming and take cover.  Amado was the last man up a heighth and the Japanese kill him.  The Americans get close to Pangassan. Corey says he is going to check it out first.   The rest camp is on the other side of the river. Corey crosses the river.  Many geisha women entertain the troops.  Corey goes into a room with a Filipino woman named Midori and tells her to get Miyasaki for him and tell him to come to the room. Midori comes back with a geisha woman.  The geisha tells Corey that she is Miyasaki  It takes some convincing for Corey to believe that Miyasaki is not a man, but a woman.  It turns out that Miyasaki is actually from Long Beach, California. 

Twenty Japs come up the trail near the marines.  Wartell and two others decide to ambush them.  Miyasaki takes off her costume and makeup and gets into civilian clothes.  Now they have to make it back to the rest of the marines.  There is a sentry in their way.  Corey kills him and they run over the bridge.  Their presence is discovered and Japanese soldiers go after them.  Corey grenades one end of the bridge and it falls into the river bringing the Japanese troops with it. 

Wartell and the two others open up on the Japanese.   A number of them are killed, but the rest of them take cover and return fire.  Greiner has been told to sit this fight out and he is hiding a ways away from the others.  Then two Japanese soldiers appear about fifteen yards from him.  He can't resist.  He shoots one of the soldiers, but misses the one with the machine gun.  The fellow opens up on Greiner.  He doesn't get Greiner, but the bullets do riddle into the back of the radio.  The Japanese retreat.  The Americans have lost two dead marines (Cpl. Alvin Ross and Sgt. Maccone) and a Wartell wounded.  And now Greiner reports in that the radio has been shot up.  Miyasaki can't believe it, saying:  "No radio!?" 

Wartell says he's staying behind.  They give him some morphine for the pain and take off.  He just throws the morphine away.  He takes two grenades, pulls the pins and puts them under his good leg.  The Japanese find him and start questioning him.  He takes the grenades out from under his leg, gets shot a few times by the Japanese and manages to toss the grenades into the group of soldiers.  Kaboom!

The Third Day.  Miyasaki tells Corey and Greiner that the Japanese know that the invasion fleet will strike from this side, bypassing Mindanao. She shows Corey on the map the passage way the Japanese assume the fleet will take.  Corey says their guess is right on the button.   Miyasaki then tells Corey that the Japanese have mined the passage and the mines are anchored to the bottom of the water.  The mines can be released by remote control.  Greiner says the fleet is headed "smack into an ambush".  

Corey finds that the mines can be released from the submarine in the area, but also from a control center at Bucan Bay.  The place is a day and a half away.  So they start walking.  At break time Miyasaki says that her parents were placed in the internment camp out by the Santa Anita Racetrack.  She volunteered for service and now she's here in the Philippines.       

The Fourth Day.  The three Americans are suddenly surrounded by Filipino guerrillas.  They are taken to a Filipino village.  Everyone stares as the three Americans are brought into the village under armed guard.  They are brought to the village elder.  He is very happy to hear that they are Americans and with MacArthur (sort of).  The elder tells the entire village and the three are hoisted up on the soldiers and given a hero's welcome. 

A messenger arrives saying that Japanese soldiers are coming looking for American soldiers.  The Japanese arrive.  They ask the village elder if he has seen any Americans?  The village elder asks:  "Americans?"  He starts laughing and the whole village starts laughing at the very idea that there could be American soldiers in their village. Corey asks one of their captors how to get to Bucan Bay.  He tells them to go down to the water and take a boat down to the bay. 

Miyasaki volunteers to stay and keep the attention of the captain, who has always had a thing for her.  She will tell the captain that they forced her to go with them and then disappeared in the jungle five miles back.  Corey agrees, despite the objections of Greiner.  She does her act and the captain is very happy to see her.  He goes into a hut to have sex with her.  The two marines now make a run for it.  They are spotted by the Japanese and the soldiers start chasing them.  The captain has to come out of the hut. 

The marines make it to the boat, jump in and start paddling.  Sensing a betrayal, the Japanese captain shoots and kills Miyasaki.  The two marines have to travel through some white water to get down to the bay.  They reach the control station.  They get into the center via a big hole under one part of the fence.  They decide to create a diversion.  They take gasoline from a truck and make a Molotov cocktail with it.  Suddenly, the men realize that neither one of them have a match.  Lucky for them, a Japanese soldier throws a cigarette away and the men grab it.  With his silencer on his weapon, Corey blasts a hole through one of the gasoline drums.  Then Greiner throws his Molotov cocktail and the hole supply dump starts exploding. 

Everyone starts running toward the fire.  Corey and Greiner jump on the back of a passing Japanese truck.  When they reach their target, they jump off the truck.  They get access to the control room.  They kill the two guards but a Japanese medical worker sees them and shouts out a warning.  Greiner works on the controls, while Corey kills a couple more soldiers.  He gets up on the top of the roof and mans the machine gun there.  As the soldiers come back from the fire, he starts mowing them down.  Greiner successfully releases the mines and they blow up in the bay.  Corey is wounded several times.  Now he has to operate the machine gun with one hand.  Greiner climbs up to the top of the roof to tell Corey the good news, but Corey is already dead.  Greiner hurries to escape.  He takes a Japanese radio with him and signals for pick-up. 

Gen. MacArthur says:  "My dear friends, I have returned.  I am, once again, in this land that I have known so long and amongst its people that I have loved so well."


A pretty good movie.  Not a lot of history though.  Maybe I shouldn't even have summarized it, but I have done it, so here it is.  Hugh O'Brian and Mickey Rooney were very good in the film.  Jim Mitchum looks a lot like his famous brother Robert.  He really stood out because he was so tall and lanky (and very young).

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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