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4.3 out of 5 stars45
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 March 2010
This is an excellent wartime drama, set in the Burmese jungle, directed by the ever-reliable Val Guest. The brilliant Stanley Baker stars as Captain Alan Langford, a soldier who has to face two major moral dilemmas when he and his men take over a small village following a shoot-out with some Japanese soldiers.

The first dilemma occurs when the captain has to decide whether or not to execute two of the villagers in order to force an informer (Wolf Morris) to give him some vital information. The question is .... Can sacrificing two innocent people be justified it if means that many more lives will be saved in the long term? Then later, when the tables are turned and the captain and his men are captured by the Japanese, he has to choose whether to talk or else witness the execution of his own men.

This is a well-crafted and superbly-acted film that does not just feature scenes of combat but also examines the human aspect of war and the difficult decisions people in command sometimes have to make. The first-rate cast, headed by Stanley Baker, also includes Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, Gordon Jackson, Bryan Forbes, David Lodge and Burt Kwouk. Apart from this impressive cast list, one of the main things that struck me about this film was the complete lack of music. However, I thought that enough tension was created without the need for any music and I found that I did not really miss it when I watched this film.

This DVD presents this 1959 black and white film in its original Megascope ratio of 2.35:1 and includes an excellent 24 page collectors booklet. If you have only ever seen some of Hammer's horror movies then I urge you to check out Yesterday's Enemy as it proves that Hammer could also make very good films in other genres as well.
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on 30 July 2010
Well, I was astonished by how good this film is. Made by Hammer Films in 1959 and despite being shot entirely on set in England it has a deep sense of the grime, heat and fear of the Borneo jungle during WWII.

What really holds it together and creates the powerful generator for this film is a gritty, untheatrical,unsentimental performance by Sir Stanley Baker. He creates a 3 dimensional character and (Amazingly for a top ranked star) never tries to get the audience to "like him". "Manly Stanley" was just that... in the 1950's when Britain's top male stars were Kenneth Moore, Dirk Bogarde and Jack Hawkins he

You can see how he kicked open the door for British leading men to be tough working class "ordinary" people.

Other fine performances from Guy Rolfe and Leo McKern make this absorbing film seem way too short. The director Val Guest struggled to have the film released without any soundtrack music and this really helps the atmosphere and leaves it up the the actors to create tension without music bailing them out. There are quite a few unexpected twists and surprises too.

The subject matter in 1959 was rather brave and controversial so well done Hammer! And well done "Old Vineger Face" as he was lovingly known!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2015
"When You Go home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

There's a school of thought in film world that all war films are anti-war films, some, however, are the definition of such and are cream of the crop. Yesterday's Enemy is one such picture.

Out of Hammer Films, it's directed by Val Guest and written by Peter R. Newman. It stars Stanley Baker, Gordon Jackson, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern and Philip Ahn. Story has the surviving members of a British Army Brigade holing up in a Burmese jungle village, where Captain Langford (Baker) happens upon a map that could prove critical to operations involving the Japanese forces in the area. Unable to get clarity from a potential traitor, Langford must make decisions that will outrage those in his quarters, but could well be for the greater good of the war effort. All while the Japanese are advancing on the village.

There is no music here, this is purely a sweaty black and white piece that booms with literary class. These men caught in a claustrophobic crossfire of moral quandaries, faiths and life altering judgements. Complex issues are brilliantly handled by Guest and his superb cast, with ace cinematographer Arthur Grant (shooting in MegaScope) completely making a mockery of the stage bound production to make real a Burmese jungle village. Come the sobering finale the realisation dawns that this was a bold movie for its time, pushing the boundaries of 1950s war movies. It's a must see film for anyone interested in the real side of that famous saying, war is indeed hell. 9/10
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2011
Really enjoyed this one, a blast from the past in more ways than one. First up I loved the way the studio managed to re-create a Burmese jungle scene, complete with exotic bird noises and bamboo huts, it looked totally realistic. The acting, as one might expect from messrs Stanley Baker and Gordon Jackson is nothing less than superb. The plot concerns a stranded British patrol who stumble on some important Jap troop movements that need to be got back to the Allies. The movie hinges on the moral aspect of war, as first both the British and then the Japs, adopt questionable morals to gain the upper hand. A very good movie indeed, although it should be pointed out that the Japanese Army did not have MP40 sub-machine-guns during the war.
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on 8 November 2010
Tense, brutal and dangerous! A very gripping film. The acting is first class and the story is brutal and shows the realities of war. Don't expect a happy ending; lots of war stories don't have one and neither does this one!
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on 13 February 2016
I was drawn to this film as a classic black and white British 1950’s movie from the same stable as ‘Ice Col In Alex’. It’s certainly of the same era but is much more modern with some stronger stuff that explains why it is not a BBC2 Sunday afternoon regular like many other British war films of the day.

On the production side a few things are notable. There is no musical soundtrack.
It was filmed on a soundstage but the set designer does a brilliant job of making it look like a dense jungle.
Some of the weapons used by the Japanese soldiers are clearly wrong.
Production wise it feels like a low budget has punched WAY above it’s weight to a really good effect.

The film itself is very serious and it’s uncompromising stuff. There is no humour at all.
The same sort of tough British ambiance as the 1965 film, ‘The Hill’.
No chance of taking enemy wounded as prisoners in this film.
Firefights are still fairly sanitised but with much more believable tactics and no Hollywood endings.
I think somebody worked on this film experienced combat for real.
There are no boys own gestures of heroism although there is one oddly silly scene with a British soldier throwing a grenade that really doesn’t sit well with the rest of the film.

British soldiers are not shown as superhuman and fall in battle just as easily as the Japanese.
At times the film seems to wants show the British conduct in world war 2 as no better or worse that the Japanese.
Both sides commit war crimes in this film but historic record shows a huge difference of conduct in reality ( the Rape Of Nanking, treatment of POW’s etc ). I don’t think that was the message the film was going for.
I think it was just trying to show that war is a far more dirty and complex business than the dashing good guys verses evil bad guys of 1950's cinema.

There are so many controversial scenes or sub-plots in this film it’s scope is far wider than most war movies. It touches on British conduct in previous conflicts and the fact Japan was an alley to Britain an earlier part of the 20th century. Other elements cover the ‘end justifies the means’, not all battles both military and personal achieve anything, the responsibility for carrying out orders that are effectively war crimes and taking an amoral course of action to save many other lives. There is a lot to get your teeth into.

This isn’t a feel good movie and must have been incredibly powerful when shown in 1959.
I can imagine audiences who hadn’t been in uniform a decade and a half earlier leaving the cinema in silence after expecting to see a mainstream war movie such as ‘The Dambusters’, ‘The Desert Rats’ or ‘Reach For The Sky’.

The cast is strong with a cadre of British character actors of the day. Stanley Baker as the tough ‘what ever it takes CO’ and Gordon Jackson as the loyal, reliable Sergeant stand out. In fact Gordan Jackson’s role is the most interesting as his stance on some of the decisions made are in the middle but ultimately driven by discipline and I suppose good soldiering.

It’s worth getting as I can’t recall ever seeing this on TV and it has an unconventional story line with heaps of thought provoking scenes. I’d describe it in one line as a British version of ‘Apocalypse Now’ but done in the 1950’s. By today’s standards it is not as shocking as Apocalypse Now but it still has impact because you just don’t expect to see these sort of issues laid out in a film of that era.
A film to remind us war is not to be taken lightly for any generation.
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on 28 July 2014
A small unit of British soldiers, find themselves behind enemy lines in Burma, during the second world war, engaged in jungle warfare. They attack a small village and kill what Japanese forces that are there, but soon discover that one of the dead Japanese is a high ranking officer. Why was he there and what is the strange map he seemed to be exchanging?
The locals are interrogated and soon certain things come to light, but with many of the British troops badly injured and the rest of them almost at the point of exhaustion, it quickly becomes clear that with the invaluable information they've recently discovered only a few if any are likely to make it...

I hadn't seen this before, but thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent character driven story, about the moral conduct of those involved in war time situations. The cast are excellent with Baker giving a good loud performance, as the officer in charge, helped and sometimes hindered by his unit of men, with Guy Rolfe, Gordon Jackson and Leo McKern offering strong support.
Although a little staged, the film never loses sight of what it's trying to achieve. With a heavy, unsettling atmosphere, helping to build the claustrophobic tension (possibly helped by unusually having nothing in the way of a soundtrack!), as the film's dark message and heat rises; practically creeping up on you from out of your tele. The actors sweating dishevelled concerns by the bucket. The lead Japanese officer, portrayed not as fiendish cardboard cut out bad guy, but given a chance at real character.

Of course quite a few will be reading reviews on here wondering if this is an action packed Brit war effort, and to that I would say no ~ although there are a number of machine gun skirmishes ~ but don't let that put you off giving this a try, because I was focussed on it right the way through and thought it was very good indeed!
Recommended, another Hammer B~side classic... And another top, underrated movie from Stanley Baker.

The UK disc is a good print.
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on 10 October 2013
A brilliant surprise. A great claustrophobic piece with convincing performances all round and Stanley Baker (SIR Stanley Baker) justifying his (forgotten man) status in a morally compromised role. I've never heard of it before, but this is an impressive claustrophobic exploration of the morality of war which is interesting and involving throughout. Vividly written and involving. Not far from 'great' and a film waiting to be rediscovered. Hammer via Columbia and Val Guest. A film of which the 'Angry Young Men' might have approved with its decent Japanese officer.
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on 16 June 2014
This is a good Hammer production, obviously short on budget with regards to location and props (Japanese using German sub-machine guns), but it handles the question of what is proper conduct in wartime with aplomb. It pulls few punches for a film of its day. Stanley Baker is excellent as always, and is well supported by a good cast.
Nice addition to a War Buffs collection, and a good drama by any standards.
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on 2 January 2012
I enjoyed this film well made and so true to life the acting is superb and one can imagine the death of the soldiers. Great film
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