Film Review: Yesterday’s Enemy (1959)

Release Date: July 11th, 1959 (Japan)
Directed by: Val Guest
Written by: Peter R. Newman
Cast: Stanley Baker, Gordon Jackson, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, David Oxley

Hammer Films, Columbia Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“He knew there’s only one way to fight a war, any war. With your gloves off.” – Captain Langford

Yesterday’s Enemy was the second war movie that I have watched from Hammer Films, who were mainly known for making horror pictures. This came in a Blu-ray set I bought, which included a lot of Hammer’s more obscure stuff.

The story follows a group of British soldiers retreating from the Japanese by going into the Burmese jungle in the hopes of getting back over their defensive line and to safety. With that, this is a pretty intense film that does a great job of building suspense and having pretty decent payoffs whenever their is a skirmish in the thick, dense, swampy jungle.

The movie really maximizes its environment well and the jungle really is the main character of the film. Even though this is a 62 year-old picture and in black and white, you do feel like you’re there with these guys and I found that to be pretty impressive due to the limitations of the production and the era in which this was made.

That being said, I can’t call this a very memorable film and it really just stands out in the moment due to it’s environment and atmosphere.

I thought the acting was also decent enough but no one really stands out here. Granted, no one was bad either. But maybe that also helped with the immersion into this tale, as you weren’t distracted by a grand performance and these guys just came across as totally natural.

If war films were my thing, I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more. They never have been, though, except for an elite few. But still, this did work and was effective and it certainly exceeded my expectations going into it. 

Rating: 6.75/10