Executive producer Aubrey Schenck seems to have dusted off the plot of his shorter (and superior) 1954 WWII war flick, "Beachhead," with some tweaking by writers Marve Feinberg, and Ib Melchior (best known for the sci-fi classics "Angry Red Planet," "Robin Crusoe on Mars," and "Planet of the Vampires"). Add veteran TV director Ron Winston and gorgeous Phillippine locations to the stew, and you have a watchable B-movie that manages to entertain in spite of an unnecessarily protracted final act.
Winston's forays into feature films were limited to a tight quartet - of which " Ambush Bay " was his debut - but the prolific TV director had already handled diverse material in shows like "East Side, West Side " and zippy action vignettes in the cult classic series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." "Ambush" moves well, and in spite of some seriously inconsistent day-for-night photography, the scenes are well integrated with the jungle locales.
MGM's transfer is taken from a very crisp print, and the original mono mix is fairly standard, showcasing the orchestral score by legendary hack composer Richard LaSalles (shamefully imitating music from "Bridge on the River Kwai," and "Mutiny on the Bounty").
Producer Schenck boosted the film's marquee value by adding Hugh O'Brien from the popular Fifties series "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," former child-star Mickey Rooney, and James (son of Robert) Mitchum. Neither three have much to work with, but play their familiar archetypes well. Director Winston got better material the following year with "Banning," and directed episodes of "McMillan and Wife" before his death in 1973.
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan
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