Cry of Battle (1963)




Director:     Irving Lerner.

Starring:     Van Heflin (Joe Trent), Rita Moreno (Sisa), James MacArthur (David McVey), Leopoldo Salcedo (Manuel Careo), Sidney Clute (Col. Ryker), Marilou Muņoz (Pinang), Oscar Roncal (Atong), Liza Moreno (Vera), Michael Parsons (Capt. Davis), Claude Wilson (Matchek), Vic Silayan (Capt. Garcia).

during the Japanese attack on the Philippines, a young man struggles with his loyalty to a surrogate father and a commitment to what is good, rather than what is evil


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

December 8, 1941.  The Japanese attack the Philippines. 

David McVey is the son of the owner of a farm in the Philippines.  One of the workers is attacked and killed by Philippine outlaws.  And now they run to kill David.  He gets in his car and rolls up the windows as he prepares for their onslaught.  He tries to get the car started but it appears that the engine is flooded. The outlaws try to break into the car by smashing he windows repeatedly.  After numerous tries, David finally starts the engine.  He takes off, but his view is blocked by two outlaws on his hood trying to bash in the front window.  He crashes the car and now it looks really bad for David.  But all of a sudden, Philippine freedom fighters rush over, while firing at the outlaws.  The outlaws head for the hills. 

The leader of the Philippine Freedom fighters shoots an outlaw trying to get at David.  David thinks the fellow is just another outlaw and tries to run away.  The fellow tells him to relax.  If he was going to kill David, he already would have done so.  David asks who is he and his group and the leader says they are Philippine patriots here to fight the Japanese.  David tries to give the leader $200 dollars, but the guy won't take it.  He tells David that he will hide him so the Japanese don't discover him.  He also tells David that he is Major Manuel Careo.  David sees he's one of the good guys, so he gives him all the money he has in his wallet.  Then he asks where will they hide him?  The answer is that they will hide him in a barrio "where we have friends". 

David meets his new host family.  Manuel says David is to stay in the barrio until he comes back for him.  In the house are the grandfather and his teen-age granddaughter named Pinang.  Manuel says he and his men are headed back into the hills.  David stays behind and the family feeds him.  He immediately starts teaching them English and gets them to tell him the Philippine words for various objects.  

The next morning David tries to learn more about the Philippine language.  An older man named Joe Trent comes over to the little house and introduces himself to David.  David, in turn, introduces Joe to Pinang.  Joe is quite the character, larger than life.  He has a big laugh and is very interested in the pretty Pinang.  Manuel comes in and Joe calls him General.  Manuel says that he is only a major.  The Philippine leaders tells David that his father was evacuated and most likely is already back in the USA.  So it looks like David is going to be stuck in the Philippines for awhile.  Manuel says they are trying to get in contact with Col. Ryker and his guerrilla unit.  They are fighting in the San Balas Mountains (??). 

Joe wants to know when Manuel is coming back and Manuel says as soon as they can contact Col. Ryker.  Manuel is a little upset at Joe's attitude and says that if the Japanese find the two Americans, the families who hid them will be butchered.  Manuel leaves and David scolds Joe for his not showing the proper respect to the major, but Joe just says David will soon learn that he can't give "these people" an inch.  Joe adds that
David's father certainly knew that.  David asks if Joe knows his father?  Joes replies:  "Better than that, kid, I work for him." 

In the morning, Joe flirts a bit with Pinang.  David comes in from the outside.  Joe asks if Pinang is "his dish"?  David replies:  "She's nobody's dish."  He says he is tired already of listening to the noise of the pigs. 

Joe tells David that they are going to be very good friends.  He adds that he thinks finding David is one of the biggest breaks he has gotten in life.  "It's going to be a long war, David, and we're going to go through a lot together.  But I'm going see that you come out in one piece." 

Joe lays in a hammock and practices throwing a knife at a target.  David tells him he's going to work at the warehouse as a big shipment of rice is coming in.  Joe is content to stay in his hammock.  He is drinking liquor and is a bit drunk.  He goes into the house.  It looks as if he wants to force the girl to have sex with him.  She screams and screams as he takes her into a bedroom. 

David comes back from the warehouse.  Joe tells him that he's shoving off.  David looks into the house and sees Pinang crying.  Now he gets mad at Joe and starts hitting him.  Joe is a lot bigger than David and he stops the fight by pounding David down with his fist.  Then Joe tells the younger man that they got to get out before the men start coming back from the fields.   David just tells him to get out.  Joe says:  "Okay, if you want to play it like a sucker."  He says he's going up into the mountains and if David is smart he will join him.  After Joe leaves, David tries to comfort Pinang, but she reacts as if now David is going to rape her.  She starts really screaming and so David runs out of there as quick as he can.  It doesn't take him long to catch up with Joe, who stopped walking as soon as he heard the screaming.  He figured it wouldn't be long before David would join him.  Nevertheless, David will not reconcile with Joe, at least, at first. 

The guys sit down for a lunch break.  They are soon surrounded by the armed Philippine men..  A littler later a pretty woman named Sisa comes to speak to the Americans.  She asks if they know Col. Ryker and Joe says he sure does.  He adds that if they take him to Col. Ryker, the Colonel will give them good rifles and bullets as a reward.  So the group takes the Americans.  They are stopped by some sentries.  Only Joe and David are given permission to go up and see Col. Ryker. 

The two Americans tell the colonel that they both want to join up with the guerrillas.  Ryker tells the guys that this is a dangerous assignment.  They may not last long alive.  In addition, they won't be receiving supplies any time soon.  Joe says they want to take their chances with the colonel and his outfit.   Col. Ryker tells them to report to Captain Davis for training and instruction.  Joe refers to the gang that brought them in as just a bunch of geeks.  The Colonel tells him not to use words like that.  Joe says he loves these people.  Ryker tells him:  "You can drop that too.  They don't want to be loved.  They want to be treated as equals, because that's what they are."   

Capt. Davis prepares an ambush of a truck carrying rice.  He tells Joe and David, as newcomers, just to watch how they ambush the truck and learn from it.  Everyone takes their places.  As the truck draws near, a Filipino throws a grenade in front of the truck and all the guys open up on the Japanese soldiers.  The bushwhackers are doing pretty good, but then another truck comes around the bend, this one with a machine gun and lots of Japanese soldiers.  The men have to beat a hasty retreat.  Captain Davis is killed along with another Americans.  At least one, and probably more, Filipinos were shot. 

A Japanese soldiers almost falls into David's lap.  David stands over the man with his bayoneted rifle pointed at his chest, but he just can't bring himself to kill the enemy soldier.  Joe puts his hands on the rifle and forces the bayonet into the man.  Joe is pleased, but David just whirls away from the body to lean his head against a tree.

At night David talks with Sisa.  She may be enthusiastic about killing the Japanese, but David does not share her great desire for revenge.  He soon walks away from her. 

Joe rents a prostitute for David, but Joe is very reluctant to go with her.  The guys start teasing him, so he goes with the prostitute.  When they go into a separate room, David tells her he just wants to talk.  She tells him that she likes Joe because he is so strong.  David is not so sold on Joe. 

A Captain Garcia has just escaped from a Japanese prison camp.  Ryker calls Joe into his office, where Joe meets the Captain.  The Colonel tells Joe that he is now a lieutenant in the United States Army for they are running very low on officers.  Joe asks what does the Captain have to do with all this?  Ryker says Joe is going with Garcia on a mission.  Joe doesn't like it, but he lets the Captain tell him about the mission.  The Japanese are holding a local village Centillo.  Sugar is stored in the many warehouses in the village.  Joe will help Garcia knock out the railway, the warehouses and the refinery. 

Joe is to pick out 20 of the best men.  A guerrilla unit under Major Careo will be waiting to hook up with them.  While Joe's and Garcia's group is taking out the railway, Careo and his men will destroy the refinery and the warehouses. 

David goes along with David on the mission.   Garcia and David look over the village with binoculars and think the place is deserted.  They walk over to it and walk up one of the major paths.  They see a sign on the wall of a small church.  In three different languages it says:  "By oder of the Japanese Imperial Army this barrio has been punished for helping the outlaw Manuel Careo."  They look inside the church and see a lot of dead bodies, murdered by the Japanese.  They leave the church and hear some laughter.  They go slowly down to the river to check it out.  Three Japanese soldiers are playing around in the river and laughing.

Garcia sneaks up to their vehicle, unaware that there is a Japanese guard watching it.  When Garcia comes around the corner of the vehicle, he is shot by the guard.  David shoots and wounds the guard.  He then rushes over to the river and shoots the three soldiers there.  He turns around and shoots the guard, trying to reach his rifle, three more times.  Joe and five Filipinos arrive on the scene.  Joe and the Filipinos go to make a stretcher for Garcia.  David joins them.  Then they hear a shot down by the river.  When they arrive at the vehicle, they all see that Garcia has committed suicide. 

One of the Filipinos takes Garcia's pistol.  Another Filipino wants the pistol.  The two men fight over the pistol and the second man kills the first man for ownership of the pistol.  David goes over to the murderer and puts his hand out to accept the gun from the murderer.  It takes awhile, but the murderer finally hands it over to David.  Joe tells Sisa to tell the men that he, Joe, is now in command. 

David tells Joe that he thinks the Filipinos with Sisa may, indeed, be bandits.  Joe says no.  Joe says David doesn't look so good.  He examines him up close and concludes that David has malaria.  Sisa arrives to tell the guys that a band of Japanese are coming up over the hill.  Joe carries David across the river in order to avoid the Japanese patrol. 

When David starts feeling better, he tells Joe that he appreciates what Joe has done for him.

Sisa tells Joe that her "boyfriend", the murderer, has an idea how to get some food and drink.  There is a village nearby.  So Joe sits down to listen to the idea. 

Joe sends Sisa and David into the village.  The villagers come up to the two strangers and explain that any extra rice they have goes to Careo and his men.  David tells Sista to tell the villagers that they are Americans and fight the same enemy that Careo fights:  the Japanese. All of a sudden, the outlaws open fire on the villagers.  David hides, but sees that Joe and the murderer are here with the rest of the bandits.  He sees Joe shoot and kill Sisa's "boyfriend".  He looks at Sisa who looks guilty and asks her:  "You knew all along, didn't you?"  Softly she says yes. 

David goes up to Joe and shouts:  "You planned it this way, didn't you Joe? . . . All these people killed."  Joe tells him to calm down saying that these people don't play by school boy rules. Then Joe thanks David for looking after Sisa, but now he will be looking after Sisa himself.  (Yeah, now that her boyfriend is dead.)  Joe goes over to her and tells her to bring some liquor drinks to him.  She looks at David, perhaps asking for help to save her from Joe. 

Later David hears the laughter of Sisa with Joe.  She comes out and says hello to Davy, but Davy is in no mood to talk to her.  Sisa takes note of the change in David's attitude to her.  David tells Joe that he's going on to Centilla.  So Joe says wait and they will all go.  Sisa says:  "You are angry at me all the time now."  Joe says:  "So what."  She tells Davy not to turn away from her.  He calls her a whore.  She says the Japanese came to her village raping the women and killing the men.  They killed her parents and her two brothers.  Aldo (the boyfriend) saved her from all that.  She says she must live this way in order to stay alive.  Sisa goes onto tell Davy that he is a whore, because he hangs on to Joe just like she hanged on to Aldo and then Joe.  She tells him that he is a fool. 

Davy apologizes to Sisa.  He says he's sorry for hurting her.  She tells him only the Japanese can hurt her.

David, Joe and Sisa walk into the village of Centilla.  The "mayor" of the village invites them to their fiesta and says that the guerrillas will also get their rice.  David goes back to get the 20 or so bandits. The bandits put their weapons in a hut, while David watches them.  Joe entertains the children of the village.  He gets high on liquor and acts foolishly trying to dance like the trained dancers dance.  He falls over and Sisa and David have to pick him up off the ground.  But Joe just wants to lay down and sleep on the ground.  The mayor and four or five men grab Joe to move him to a quieter place. 

David invites Sisa down to the river for a little swim.  As they get close to the river, Sisa pushes him into the water.  He picks her up in turn and throws her into the water.  They chase each other around having fun. They stay out all night and wake up in the morning still by the river. 

Justice seems to be catching up with Joe.  Now Col. Careo has charges against Joe from the village where he raped the girl Pinang.  David says the incident does mean something to him.  David says if Joe is guilty then he is to because he went along with Joe.  Careo says that he is convinced that Joe is guilty of rape, murder and massacre.  Joe tells the Colonel to turn him over to Col. Ryker.  Corea informs him that Col. Ryker is dead.   His headquarters were overrun by the Japanese. 

Corea asks David to read over the report and the charges against Joe and then sign the document.  But David refuses to sign the document.  Rather he tears the report up.  Corea comes to check on David and finds the document ripped up.  Why?, he asks.  Because Joe saved his live a half a dozen times.  He turns to Sisa, but she doesn't say a word.  Careo says Joe will go to trial. 

The three are alone now.  Joe tells David not to worry, because he already has a good defense already prepared for trial.  Just then bullets from a machine gun rip through the bamboo quarters.  Japanese tanks are headed down the road.  David grabs a lantern and lights the flame.  He is going to bash the lantern on the tank as it drives by.  Joe tries to stop him asking if David thinks Corea is going to give him a medal for this?  David tells him to just go.  Joe says he's not going, if David isn't going.  Just then Joe is hit by a machine gun bullet.  David throws the lantern onto the tank and it explodes.  The Japanese tank now afire goes off the road.  David then turns around and sees that Joe has been hit. 

Joe, David and Sisa all run away from the village.  A train passes by them.  They stay hidden until it passes.  As they walk on, Joe says he can feel that they are near the ocean.  And, sure enough, with a little more walking they reach the ocean.  Sisa and David go walking hand and hand into the water. 

Joe is all well, but he still pretends he is still sick.  He complains to David that they leave him alone all day, while he and Sisa are out.  Joe says tomorrow he is going to go into the local village.  David warns him that he better not because Careo's men are all over the area. 

David apologizes to Sisa for Joe's little temper tantrum, but Sisa explains the situation to Davy.  Joe is not made because Sisa loves David, but mad because David loves Sisa.  She says:  "He needs you and he's angry because you do not need him."

David and Sisa talk about getting a boat and going to an island that is about five miles out from the beach.  But David feels guilty, because he thinks he would be running out on the other fellows who face death everyday fighting the Japanese.  While walking on the beach, the two hear a loud explosion.  They go to check it out and find that the railroad track has been blown up.   

David goes to the village and when he comes back it looks like Joe had sex with Sisa again.  Sisa looks sad and dejected.  She walks away.  David starts fighting Joe and Joe won't hit back.  So David keeps hitting him until he falls down.  He then picks up something to hit Joe with.  As he gets ready to pound Joe's head in, he stops himself.   He has Sisa get him some water and a cloth.  He starts cleaning Joe's face.  Joe says it looks like the two of them are stuck with each other. 

Joe goes down to the beach and sees three men coming toward them.  They fear it's the Japs and they rush to get their rifles.  But it's not the Japanese.  It's Col. Careo and two of his men.   David tells Joe not to start anything, but as soon as he turns his back to Joe, Joe shoots one of the men with Careo.  He then wounds the other soldier with Careo.  David tries to stop Joe, but he just knocks David down with little effort on his part.  Corea helps the wounded soldier into the brush. Joe runs down the beach after Careo.  David pursues him down the beach. 

David catches up to Joe and tells him to stop.  Joe starts saying that if he can kill this Careo fellow, he will be home free and then they together can go to that island and sit the war out.  David suddenly shoots Joe.  Sisa arrives on the spot and then Corea.  The Colonel says thank you to David and adds that David had to choose between Joe's way and Careo's way.  Careo now asks David if he wants to join them?  David looks at Sisa, but she doesn't say a word. 


A young American man named David is left all alone after the Japanese attack on the Philippines.  An older American takes the impressionable young man under his wing.  The problem is that David always led a privileged life in the Philippines and had never had to rely on himself.  His father made the decisions for him.  But now David is on his own and he senses that he won't survive without Joe's help.  So Joe becomes a surrogate father to David.  The only problem is that the new father is no proper role man for any young man.  The father commits a number of crimes, including rape, murder and massacre.  David feels torn emotionally between doing what is right and his loyalty to Father Joe.  David has a long struggle between his loyalty to father and his commitment to the good.  David finally decides to side with the good, but then what will happen to his relationship with his surrogate father? 

Also there is a love story between David and Sisa in the film that is pretty good. 

The film is more about a psychological study of the struggle between the good and the evil in a human beings.  There's not a lot learned about the Philippine Resistance after the American forces were defeated by the Japanese.  There are other films that give more detail about the Resistance movement on the Philippine islands. 

The four main actors in the film were all good.  I especially got a kick out of seeing Rita Moreno of West Side Story fame) in the film.  She sure was young then. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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