No Man is an Island (1962)
Director: Richard Goldstone and John Monks, Jr..
Starring: Jeffrey Hunter (George R. Tweed), Marshall Thompson (Jonn Sonnenberg), Barbara Perez ('Joe' Cruz), Ronald Remy (Chico Torres), Paul Edwards Jr. (Al Turney), Rolf Bayer (Chief Schultz), Vicente Liwanag (Vicente), Fred Harris II (Roy Lund), Lamberto V. Avellana (Mr. Shimoda), Chichay (Mrs. Nakamura), Antonio De la Mogueis (Florecito), Vic Silayan (Major Hondo), Bert La Fortesa (Comdr. Oto Harada), Eddie Infante (Sus Quintagua), Nardo Ramos (Tumon), Rosa Mia (Primera Quintagua), Mike Anzures (Santos), Bruno Punzalan, Joseph de Cordova (Father), Pangolin, Mario Barri (Limtiaco), Steve Joseph (Tommy Tanaka), Ding Tello (Japanese sergeant major), Bert Olivar (Antonio Cruz), Nena Ledesma, Veronica Palileo (Josefa Cruz), Segundo Veloria.
an American serviceman fights for survival on Japanese-occupied Guam
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"Based on the experiences of George Tweed, USN, during World War II."
On the island of Guam (the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands and located east of the Philippines) a man sits alone on top of a rock along the shore. He thinks of the poem with the phrase "No man is an island entire of itself."
Flashback. There is a small communications center on a height on Guam. George R. Tweed, US Navy, works there. He is scheduled to be leaving for his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota tomorrow. The guys around him, Chico Torres, Jonn Sonnenberg and Chief Schultz, tease him about leaving the island paradise of Guam. The guys help put out a news bulletin called The Guam Eagle. At night Tweed's replacement, Roy Lund, arrives. Tweed really gives him a warm welcome. The Chief introduces the guys to Lund, including a blonde fellow named Al Turney. Turney is a bit of a racist, calling the locals "fishheads". The Chief pulls off Tweed's last full day in the Navy from the calendar. Tweed goes over and takes the piece of paper from the Chief as a souvenir. The day is December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States finally gets into World War II.
December 8, 1941. The Japanese attack Guam. One of the native workers is killed by a bomb from one of the attacking Japanese airplanes. As the attack proceeds the men listen to a damage report from Pearl Harbor. Sunk were the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia, California, Nevada, Utah, Cassin, Downes, Oglala, Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Helena, Honolulu and Raleigh. Many of the locals run into the church in the capital of Guam, Agana (now Hagta). The American military base is attacked by the planes.
The Navy Shore Patrol picks up Mrs. Nakamura, a very feisty Japanese woman who runs the local bar and has been on Guam for 45 years now. The Shore Patrol has orders to pick up all Japanese nationals. They place her in the back of a truck with other Japanese nationals and is taken away.
Chico arrives on top of the height from the town below. He says the commanding officer has told him the guys in the communications center can either come down and surrender with the others or take to the hills. Al Turney tells the Chief that he is going to surrender. The other guys want to keep free of the Japanese. Japanese soldiers land on the island of Guam. Turney starts to head down hill. The Chief warns him that he was in China when the Japanese came and the Japanese treat prisoners horribly. A Japanese airplane strafes the top of the hill killing the Chief. Now Tweed is in charge. The men jump in the jeep and start taking off. Turney has a change of heart and runs to catch up with the jeep. He jumps on and away they go.
The guys drive along the dirt road until they hit the jungle. They start unloading the jeep to start walking. In the capital the American military has already surrendered. They are placed in a barbed-wire containment area. The commander asks the American military leaders for a list of the names of the American dead. Mr. Shimoda is the Guam resident who is the go-between for the Japanese.
The local people are known as Chamorros. A farmer and his son bring a soup of chicken and rice to feed the navy hide-outs. The farmer is giving them the soup that would have feed the farmer's family of thirteen children and his wife. Sonnenberg asks Turney what does his thinks of the "fishheads" now? The selfish bastard doesn't say anything.
Mr. Shimoda has used the military records to figure out that there are five names missing: Lund, Sonnenberg, Torres, Turney and Tweed. The Japanese commander says the Americans should have told them about the missing men. He says this has made it more difficult for the Japanese and for the missing men themselves.
The farmer's son watches the road and sees two Japanese trucks filled with soldiers coming along the road. Turney is being a real jerk and talks constantly in defeatist terms. Tweed gets mad at him and tells him as long as he is with them, he will follow the decisions of the group. The boy arrives with the bad news. The guys have to scramble to get the hell out of there. Tweed grabs the mobile radio, while the others grab the weapons. The men are delayed somewhat by Lund who was taking a bath at the time in an old oil barrel.
The guys push through the marsh. Lund falls into a hole in the marsh and has to be pulled out. He loses one of his shoes in the process. This really slows the gang down as Lund's bare foot becomes all cut up. Then he steps on a scorpion and gets stung.
The Japanese put up a notice saying that they have come as friends and that all will now prosper in the greater East Asia co-prosperity plan. The fellow who reads the notice out loud just chuckles at its ridiculousness. As they stand outside Mrs. Nakamura's bar, the Japanese put up another notice. This one offers a reward for information leading to the capture of the American sailors.
At night Sonnenberg sees a truck with Japanese soldiers approaching their position. Lund's foot is really bad. Sonnenberg arrives to tell them a night patrol is coming their way. The men will have to leave Lund behind. The sailors get a lot of brush to put around Lund and the radio to hide him. They say they will be back for him and take off. But Turney wants to surrender to the Japanese. He goes back to Lund to await capture. Lund tells him to get away from him, but Turney is too self-centered to listen to him. He wants someone to go with him. When the Japanese come near the hiding place, Turney goes to surrender to them. He is immediately shot dead. Lund shoots Turney's killer and another Japanese soldier throws a grenade into Lund's position, finishing him off. Now there are just three free sailors left.
The men come upon a coconut factory where they ask for some food from the supervisor. The man, named Sus Quintagua gives them some food. He also tells them that he will bring his boss, Mr. Santos, over to see them. He will surely know what to do. But then Sus has an idea. He puts the sailors into carts and covers them with the halved coconuts. As the carts are pulled by oxen, Sus and the carts come upon a Japanese checkpoint. The Japanese start emptying the front cart. The head soldier comes out to talk to Sus. The man is drunk as hell. He starts threatening Sus with his pistol, but Sus talks the drunk out of shooting him. Unfortunately, the soldier starts shooting off his pistol and one of the shots goes right into one of the carts. Sus and the carts now move out away from the checkpoint. Blood starts flowing out from the car hit by the bullet.
The carts arrive at the factory and the workers uncover the men. They discover that Chico Torres is dead. Sonnenberg starts blaming Sus for not telling them that one of the mean was wounded. But Sus swears that he did not know a bullet even hit the cart, much less Chico. The remaining two sailors, Sonnenberg and Tweed, go sleep in the barn. The wife of Sus arrives. She wants the sailors to go quickly because she is afraid that the Japanese will find them. Sus tells the men not to worry about her, because he is the boss of the family. His wife glares at him.
Sus uncovers a hidden radio and gives it to the sailors. The sailors check it out. They get a message over the radio that MacArthur and his forces are retiring to fight it out on Bataan peninsula. Then the radio goes kaput. They can't fix it because the plates in the battery are shot. Sus's wife wakes up Tweed. Tweed reeds the message from Sonnenberg that they went to where they left their jeep in order to get the battery to fix the radio.
Sonnenberg with Sus and his son reach the jeep and start working to get the battery out. Meanwhile, a truck of Japanese soldiers arrives at the factory. The factory boss tells Tweed to take the radio and get out of here. He sends Sus's wife with him to go find the jeep. When they arrive at the spot, they find Sonnenberg and Sus dead with their heads cut off. The wife screams and screams. Now only Tweed is left alive.
The young son takes Tweed to the leper hospital. Tweed sleeps there overnight. In the morning he is awakened by the sounds of children playing. Later in the morning he meets the director, Father Pangolin. Limtiago, his valuable assistant, is with him. Tweed tells the Father that he doesn't want anyone else to get killed hiding him. He says he will surrender, but the Father is absolutely opposed to that.
The Father gives Tweed a tour of the hospital. He shows Tweed one "ward" where the most and longest afflicted are held. Tweed comes out shocked. The Father tells Tweed that the Japanese won't come here. Father now introduces Tweed to Tommy Tanaka who is half-Japanese. He is a little kid who has a toy typewriter.
The Americans and Filipinos are still fighting the Japanese from Bataan. This is good news. Father says it's a shame only they can hear the "real" news. Tweed tells Father and Limtiago about how he used to work on The Guam Eagle. Then George has an idea. He goes over to Tommy Tanaka to bargain with him for his toy typewriter. The little boy holds out for a watch and six bits. He tells Tommy: "You ought to run a used car lot."
They make a typewriter ribbon from a piece of silk cloth snipped from the Father's white stole. The long cloth is dipped in a mixture of purple ether and gentian violet. It really smells. George types out his newspaper for the people to read. Copies are made and distributed to the people in secret. A copy is brought to Mrs. Nakamura's bar. The Japanese officers and their geisha girls now dominate the bar. Mr. Shimado is with them. He puts his dental plate in an officer's drink and then makes a joke, which makes everyone laugh.
The radio announcer says that April 18, 1942 would go down as one of America's proudest days. The Doolittle raid of bombers bombed sites on the Japanese homeland. Tweed, the Father and Limtiago shout out with glee.
On Guam the Japanese discover a copy of The Guam Eagle. They don't like it! The copy tells about the Doolittle Raid, which is news to the Japanese themselves. They show it to Mr. Shimado. He recognizes the peculiar smell of the bulletin and concludes it's from a hospital. At night the Japanese raid the leper hospital. Tweed is hidden in the ward with the worst leper cases. The soldiers push and pull all the people into the square. They go into Father's office and Shimado discovers the gentian violet-ether solution. The Japanese start burning the various hospital buildings. Japanese soldiers start to go into the ward of worst cases and shine their lights inside. The lepers all get up and flash their deformities. The soldiers immediately turn around and leave. As the fires spread, the people start panicking and run out through the hospital gate. The Japanese leave, taking the Father with them.
George Tweed leaves the hospital too. He sleeps in a farmer's field. In the morning the farmer finds him and awakens Tweed. Tweed is a bit afraid of the farmer, but Limtiago tells him not to worry. This man is Antonio Cruz. Cruz shows Tweed a Japanese notice saying anyone who hides or helps Tweed and Torres will be executed. The farmer tells Tweed he cannot hide him on his property, but he knows of a place that is a long way away and is very hard to find. The three men start walking to the place. It's in a depression on top of a big stone hill. They slowly climb to the top and from there show Tweed a cave in which he can hide. The two Chamorros give Tweed some food and coffee, a rifle with about four or five bullets and a machete. Tweed asks Cruz why he is helping him and Cruz says this way he can help his country. The Chamorros leave.
During a rain storm at night Tweed hears a strong whistle. He goes over to the side of the hill and finds "Joe" climbing up onto the top. Tweed holds a rifle on Joe until he identifies himself. Inside the cave Tweed tells Joe to take his shirt off. But when she takes off her hat and outer shirt, Tweed recognizes that Joe is a young woman and a pretty one at that. She starts cooking rice for Tweed. Joe stays overnight.
The next morning the pair look out onto the water. They can see all the way to Tumon Bay. Joe wants to stay with Tweed, but he acts as if he doesn't need anyone. He also says it's too dangerous to stay with him. He looks out toward the bay and says that: ". . . one day there's gonna be the longest line of battle wagons you ever saw comin' right over that horizon." Joe says: "You betcha!"
A Japanese patrol lands on the beach not far from Tweed's hill. At the same time Joe returns for another visit. She brings him an alarm clock. Joe has also brought a baby chick. She says it will grow up and he can have eggs for breakfast. Tweed laughs. Then Tweed hears the sounds of the enemy. They are throwing grenades into the bushes alongside the hill and then checking for a possible dead American. Tweed goes to check it out. The alarm clock rings and Joe has to rush to turn it off. After awhile, the Japanese leave.
Tweed decides to use the alarm of the clock as a warning device. He connects it to the branch of a huge tree that anyone can use as a way to start climbing up the hill. Joe swings on the branch and it sets off the clock alarm.
The Father is being roughed up by the Japanese to force him to talk. Father just keeps saying that he doesn't know where the American are hiding. So the Japanese put up a new poster saying that after one month, if Tweed is not surrendered or killed, they will burn one farm a day in each of the Guam districts. The natives think of a scheme to fool the Japanese. They poison Shimoda. The Japanese have a funeral for him and bury him. At night the natives steal the corpse. They take it to a hidden place along the beach and leave the body out for the crabs and other creatures to eat the flesh. After awhile, the corpse is no more than a skeleton. They hand Tweed's dog tags around the neck of the skeleton and put it on a prominent point where it will be easily discovered. The Japanese find it and check it out. They read the dog tags and are satisfied it is Tweed. Two of the soldiers, however, find the distinctive dentures of Shimoda. They, however, see gold in the dentures and decide to keep the dentures rather than show them to the officers.
Tweed's chick has now grown up into a fine rooster. The alarm bell rings and Tweed runs out to see who is coming. It is Antonio and his wife. Cruz tells Tweed that it is Christmas and they are having a feast at George's place. Behind him comes his four boys and Joe who is decked out in a nice white dress. Antonio has good news for Tweed. The Japanese marines and soldiers have left Guam. He says only a few military police are in Agana. George is very happy.
Father Pangolin and Limtiago arrive for the feast. After the meal Tweed and Joe go up on the top of the hill. They talk about Minneapolis, Christmas and eggnog. All of a sudden George sees ships and hears airplanes approaching Guam. He thinks it's the Americans, but after a short while, he realizes it the Japanese returning to Guam. They have come to fortify the defenses on Guam in preparation for an American assault on the island.
George learns of the coastal defenses being prepared and worries about American casualties. He feels he must get a message to the Americans somehow. But how? He asks Antonio to bring him a nice, new, shining five-gallon can. He has an idea.
Tweed hears a huge artillery gun firing shells out into the bay. He goes to check it out and discovers that the gun emplacements are not that far away from his hill. Joe comes to see Tweed. The Japanese came and took her father away. They are taking all the men in the district to work on the roads. She has also brought him the five-gallon can. Tweed goes to work on it and rather quickly turns it into a signal light like those used on navy ships, except that a little lantern will have to provide the light. Joe is worried about the Japanese seeing Tweed's light. Tweed tells her not to worry, because if they see it and come up, he will already be gone. He tells Joe she has to go now.
Both Tweed and the Japanese at the gun emplacements see the approach of a US navy destroyer. Tweed rushes to get his signal contraption. The Japanese take up their battle positions. It is too light outside to use the signal light, but Tweed grabs a piece of a mirror and starts flashing in Morse code that the coast is not clear. The destroyer turns around. The Japanese wonder if someone might have warned the destroyer to turn around. At night the ship signals to the place where they saw the light flashing. Tweed tells them he has lots of information on coastal defenses and wants to be taken aboard. The navy asks if he can make it to the beach in twenty minutes. George signals yes. The Japanese are now searching for the source of light coming from Guam to the destroyer. Tweed runs to get a few things he needs, like the map of the coastal defenses. He says goodbye to his rooster.
Tweed rushes down to the beach. A naval gun boat with sailors armed with automatic weapons comes to pick up Tweed. The Japanese spot Tweed as he runs across a huge field. They give chase. Tweed arrives at the beach and shouts out for the Americans: "Where are you?" He sees the Japanese coming towards him. From the boat Tweed hears a sailor shout to him: "Swim out!" The Japanese arrive on the beach and shoot at Tweed as he swims. Tweed starts swimming underwater to the boat. He reaches the boat and is taken aboard. Now the American gunners open up with their automatic weapons. All the Japanese on shore are killed.
George Tweed is treated like a hero aboard the naval ship. The men hang around him and talk to him. A sailor gives him his brand new shoes. Tweed puts them on and they fit. His joy, however, it turned to anger when the sailor offering the shoes calls the people on Guam, some of whom saved his life, "fishheads". Tweed takes off the shoes and gives them back to the sailor saying that they don't fit.
The Americans take back Guam. (The Battle of Guam began July 21, 1944. The Japanese forces officially surrendered on August 10, 1944.)
After the battle George climbs back up his old ladder to the top of his hill. The Cruz boys and their father and mother are there along with George's rooster. They are happy to see George. And George and Joe are very happy to see each other again as they hug each other tightly.
My wife and I both enjoyed the movie. It's a story of survival against severe odds against survival. George Tweed, with the help of the Camorros on Guam, survives and is picked up US naval forces shortly before the start of the Battle of Guam. There is also a bit of a love story involved in the film between George and "Joe". It's also one of those feel good movies, since it ultimately has a happy ending (except for George's buddies who were killed by the Japanese).
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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