AS a rule. 1 avoid war films. The escapism of the cinema is its greatest appeal so far as I am concerned. War pictures tend to bring one up against the cold hard facts of reality with too much of an uncomfortable jolt.
But Torn! Tore Tore! (U. Leicester Square Theatre) is different. Possibly one reason for the difference may be that it has been made on such a vast scale that, wisely, no attempt has been made to highlight individual characters. It is at the personal level that things always hit hardest.
Big tragedies, horrifying though they may be, are really beyond us. too much for our minds to take in. A merciful dispensation of Providence.
So although Pearl Harbour was a frightful and unforgettable disaster for the incredibly unprepared American Navy, this film manages to take a fascinatingly objective look at the events which led up to the Japanese attack which came, literally. out of the blue of a quiet Sunday morning in Hawaii.
The historical facts make a compulsive plot. Each small incident, perhaps insignificant enough in itself, brings the awful conclusion nearer with the inevitability of the happenings in a Greek tragedy..
"Torat Tiara! Tora!" is, in fact, two films cleverly blended into one. The Japanese story was made by a Japanese production unit with a Japanese cast. The American side of the story was made by Americans with an American cast.
From this point of view, the film is quite unique. It is the first time that two former warring nations have combined the talents of their film industries to make a film about the first battle between them.
The aspect of the film which is most striking is undoubtedly the inefficiency and sheer bungling on the part of the American authorities, in such contrast to the meticulous and detailed planning carried out on the Japanese side.
American intelligence knew something was going to happen on December 7, one o'clock U.S. time. Warning signals were sent out to all commanding officers. But the atmospheric conditions between the States and Hawaii were considered too bad for a wireless message. The ordinary telegram despatched in its place arrived hours after the attack had started.
Two young soldiers manning a radar post reported approaching aircraft and were told to forget about it. A new captain on his first command reported sighting a submarine attempting to enter Pearl Harbour and his report was dismissed as raw over-conscientiousness.
Everything seemed to conspire against the hapless Americans, but more than anything else it was their inability to believe that there could be any real danger to themselves that tipped the balance.
The film emphasises the point that the Japanese did not intend that the attack should precede a formal declaration of war, although in the event it preceded the declaration by 55 minutes. Here again. apparently, luck was simply against the Americans.
The only clerk on Sunday duty at the Japanese Embassy in Washington was a rotten typist. His abandoned attempts
at typing out the vital docu ment lay scattered on the floor while his Ambassador telephoned Cordell Hull (George Macready) for a postponement of their appointment.
One will not soon forget the look of abject humiliation on the face of the Ambassador (Shogo Shimada) when he is contemptuously dismissed by Hull after their meeting.
The attack scenes are con vincing without being sickening. This might be too much for some little girls, but boys of all ages will enjoy the film thoroughly. This is definitely one for Dad to take the men of the family to.
Two Mules for Sister Sara (A, Casino Cinerama) has Shirley MacLaine playing a nun and playing her most convincingly. As Sister Sara, apparently a travelling missionary in Mexico, she finds herself in difficulties with three drunken men in the middle of the desert.
Hogan (Clint Eastwood) rides up just in time to shoot them all for her, and when he discovers that she has inside knowledge of the French garrison at Chihuahua, which he
intends to take for the rebel Juaristas, they team up.
They are a most unlikely, but not totally unbelievable, partnership. Shirley MacLaine is an unconventional nun but such do exist. Her wildest departure from what one would expect is when she takes a surreptitious puff at Hogan's cigar. Their adventures together are exciting and the Mexican scenery in Cinerama is just fabulous,
In the end, the box office triumphs and Sister Sara turns out to belong to a profession which is just about as far removed from the religious life as it is possible to get. I was sorry. I thought she made a very good nun.
The Man Who Had Power Over Women (X, Metropole) is a story with, rather unexpectedly, several morals. It takes a possibly honest, and certainly all ton credible look at what might he called the flip side of a pop singer's life.
Peter Reaney (Rod Taylor) is a successful talent spotter with a big pop star agency. His private life is in a mess and his marriage is breaking up. His wife shrewdly points out, as
she leaves, that his discontent with his life stems from his basic dislike of his job which he tries to conceal even from himself.
Barry Black (Clive Francis) is the agency's most successful client, an utterly self-engrossed pop singer. A girl who has been smuggled into his hotel room for one night is pregnant. This pathetic 17-year-old (Wendy Hamilton) tries to see Barry, but the agency callously offer her a backstreet abortion for which they pay.
The girl dies after the operation and the agency buy off her mother to preserve Barry's image with his fans. This is too much for Reaney to stomach and he finally knocks Barry out
in front of a crowd of his fans. He walks out of his old life, ac-companied by the widow of his best friend with whom he has been making love before his best friend's rather timely demise.
An unsavoury film, but it just might do some pop-struck little teenagers some good. Here's hoping, anyway.