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      Too Late the Hero

      PG 1970 2 hr. 13 min. War List
      57% 14 Reviews Tomatometer 70% 1,000+ Ratings Audience Score During World War II, Allied forces interpreter Sam Lawson (Cliff Robertson) is called on by his superior for a dangerous mission. Up to this point, Lawson has managed to completely avoid combat. But now he must team up with some equally reluctant British soldiers, including Pvt. Tosh (Michael Caine), and travel into perilous jungle territory to destroy a Japanese communications base. The men must now face the once unthinkable prospect of becoming heroes. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (51) audience reviews
      David O Attending college after retiring from the Navy, I had to watch this for a fine arts class. It was rather cliché I thought, and had nothing fresh to offer at all. I think it was included in the syllabus mainly because the professor was a huge fan of Robert Aldrich's work. Not a movie I would watch a second time. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 10/29/22 Full Review jon c Caine and Robertson are a dime a dozen playing soldiers wrestling with the backwaters of war and dealing with the constant decisions between right and wrong on how to save as many as they can this movie is just too damn long to get really invested and overstays its welcome Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review delysid d i enjoyed the film with micheal caine Rated 3 out of 5 stars 05/17/20 Full Review paul d An odd movie, mixing thoughtful scenes and dialogue with conventional ones, with martial music intruding constantly. I'm glad I watched it, and there are some good performances, notably Denholm Elliott and MIchael Caine - Cliff Robertson is also very good, but the script calls for such a taciturn person that he does not shine through. This might be best recommended to a film school class as a movie to be dissected for how the sum of the parts can be much greater, unfortunately, than the whole, and for how this film could have been so much better Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member In the 1942 Pacific War theatre of World War II, Lieutenant Sam Lawson (Cliff Robertson), is a Japanese language interpreter who - so far - has avoided combat. His commanding officer Capt. John G. Nolan (Henry Fonda) unexpectedly cancels his leave and informs Lawson that he is to be assigned to a British infantry commando unit in the New Hebrides Islands for a combat mission. The British base is in the middle of a large open field, several hundred yards from the edge of the jungle; on the other side of the jungle is a Japanese observation and communications post. Shortly after Lawson's arrival at the base, a patrol of British soldiers sprint out of the jungle and across the open field, pursued by the Japanese. The base commander, Col. Thompson (Harry Andrews), instructs his men to keep well back, out of enemy range; they watch as the patrol are cut down by Japanese rifle fire. Lawson's commando group is instructed to destroy the Japanese radio transmitter to prevent them from sounding the alarm about an American naval convoy which is scheduled to appear on the horizon in three days. The post's radio operator transmits an "all's well" signal every night at midnight; it will be Lawson's job to transmit a fake signal (in Japanese) to buy the Allies another 24 hours. The commando group is led by Captain Hornsby (Denholm Elliott), an upper class officer who apparently has a history of foolhardiness. The other members of the squad are draftees from Singapore whose enthusiasm for fighting leaves something to be desired: Pte. Tosh Hearne (Michael Caine), a cynical Cockney who is also the squad's medic; Pte. Jock Thornton (Ian Bannen), a lean Scot whom Lawson at first considers slightly cracked for skipping on patrol and singing the "Teddy Bears' Picnic", Pvt. Campbell (Ronald Fraser), a fat Glaswegian; grey-haired Sergeant Johnstone (Percy Herbert); Scott the radio operator (Harvey Jason); Griffiths, Rogers, Currie, Connolly, and Riddle. By the time the squad reaches the Japanese post, Riddle, Connolly, and Currie are dead from a botched ambush - which, Tosh mutters to Lawson, was entirely due to Hornsby's incompetence: they were positioned on both sides of the trail, and the dead men seem to have been the victims of friendly fire. When Johnstone is wounded in another encounter, Hornsby leaves him behind; shortly thereafter, Johnstone is discovered by the Japanese and his throat slit. Things continue to go wrong for the men, and eventually they have to fight to survive while exposing their weakness in character... Robert Aldrich recalled that the production company ABC Films, wanted another version of his classic and successful "The Dirty Dozen" and that "Too Late the Hero", a property that could use some of the same elements, had been languishing in studio drawers for over a decade. The idea of the film came from an unpublished novel called Don't Die Mad by Robert Sherman who had worked on several films with Aldrich. The plot surrounds a rag tag of unsympathetic and insubordinate soldiers that fight only to save their lives and not for patriotism or idealism. Robertson´s anti-hero Lawson redeems himself in the end and becomes an American hero. Of course. The dialogue is quite cynical and yet there´s humour mixed in the drama and violent outcomes. The sets and environments in the Philippines add to the authenticity of the picture and the cinematography is fine. However, the problem with "Too Late The Hero" is first of all the casting of Cliff Robertson in the main role as he simply can´t carry that role. Aldrich said he wanted "anyone but Cliff Robertson" for the lead role but he was overruled by the studio. I agree with Aldrich. The second problem is that it is so clear that this is simply a poorer carbon copy of Aldrich "The Dirty Dozen" as said and it just doesn´t come near to the former one. And third of all, it never really becomes that exciting and there´s too much running time that doesn´t add to the film. The enjoyment of the film is Michael Caine and not much else. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/21/23 Full Review Audience Member An interesting film about a cowardly American translator sent on a mission with a group of British soldiers to destroy a Japanese radio post. Essentially, the question is how far the lead character will go in his refusal to care about anything but his own safety. As such it is an interesting character study full of betrayals or expected troubles. Not your typical war film. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

      View All (14) Critics Reviews
      TIME Magazine The most aggravating thing about Too Late the Hero is that Aldrich is a film maker of some accomplishment. Apr 20, 2010 Full Review Variety Staff Variety An okay World War II melodrama, featuring Michael Caine and Cliff Robertson as antagonists who come to respect each other in the course of destroying a Jaanese radio transmitter. Mar 26, 2009 Full Review Geoff Andrew Time Out The action has its moments (with the patrol's paranoia fed by taunting messages from Japanese loudspeakers hidden in the jungle), and the bantering dialogue is often very funny. Jun 24, 2006 Full Review Richard Schickel LIFE One can't help but feel we've been slogging through this movie jungle since childhood. Sep 4, 2019 Full Review Penelope Houston The Spectator One might have thought that one Dirty Dozen was enough for a filmmaking career. Oct 3, 2018 Full Review TV Guide Finds veteran action director Aldrich resting on his laurels, delivering a rather bland retread of past success. Rated: 3/4 Apr 20, 2010 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis During World War II, Allied forces interpreter Sam Lawson (Cliff Robertson) is called on by his superior for a dangerous mission. Up to this point, Lawson has managed to completely avoid combat. But now he must team up with some equally reluctant British soldiers, including Pvt. Tosh (Michael Caine), and travel into perilous jungle territory to destroy a Japanese communications base. The men must now face the once unthinkable prospect of becoming heroes.
      Director
      Robert Aldrich
      Screenwriter
      Robert Aldrich, Lukas Heller
      Rating
      PG
      Genre
      War
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (DVD)
      May 25, 2004