Cornel Wilde produced, directed, and stars in this sincere, hard-edged look at World War II that doesn't flinch from the horrors of battle. The action takes place during a single American campaign to take an island held by the Japanese. Brief flashbacks to civilian life are the only escape from the gritty, dreary setting.
The usual cliché characters are replaced by new ones, such as the captain (Wilde) who loves his wife but hates the war, the sergeant (Rip Torn) who gets sadistic pleasure out of battle, the minister's son (Patrick Wolfe) who keeps remembering the girl he left back home, and the Southern illiterate (Burr DeBenning) who finds a place for himself in the Marines.
The screenplay (from a 1945 novel by Peter Bowman) avoids stereotypes yet doesn't make any of these men into fleshed-out characters. Still, the acting is solid and Wilde deserves commendation for taking a harsh, unromanticized look at the Big One, over thirty years before Steven Spielberg did it with Saving Private Ryan.