Beachhead (1954) Script

Put those away.

They'll smell those all the way to Tokyo.

Twenty-five years in the Marine Corps to breed that voice of command.

Twenty-six years, son.

And still learning.

Yeah, I knew some of the guys you practiced on.

You fellas. Always kiddin'!

Major Scott wants to see you, Sarge.

Look, old-timer, don't call him Major, and don't call me Sarge.

We got trouble enough without you pointing us out to the Nips.

Ain't one war enough for you, Reynolds?

He won't fight.

We had one like that in our football team.

They never fight when they know you know about 'em.

Happy Times Three, this is control. Report. Over.

Control, this is Happy Times Three. In position. Ready to go. Over.

We scrimmage at 1100, number Three. Happy Times. Control out.

All five platoons are in position and ready to jump.

Think we can manage to sound like a division?

Thought you said I wasn't gonna go.

You're not.

If that decision has anything to do with Guadalcanal...

Fletcher, in this business, it seems to me very little has anything to do with anything else.

Orders for your assignment came down from intelligence in Australia.

Wanna tell me now?

It's a big walk.

You, Burke, Biggerman, Reynolds.

Whatever it is, I don't need Reynolds.

Burke, Biggerman, and Reynolds came out of your Guadalcanal outfit.

They know their business.

Look, I don't- You look.

Ever since that Guadalcanal mess, you've been waiting for somebody to pat you on the shoulder and say, "That's all right. "

That isn't gonna happen. You're a regular Marine and a non-com.

Fight your own battles inside and out, but don't bring me personal troubles when I give you an order.

Yes, sir.

All right, Fletch. Let's talk to your men.


Save your legs.

This isn't for scuttle-butt.

What you're going to hear you keep to yourselves. Understood?

You are now here.

Thirty miles... from the Island of Bougainville.

For your information, in three days, Bougainville is going to be the target of a full-scale assault.

That's the reason for this diversionary action.

We've got six small raiding parties here.

If each raiding party can manage to be in ten places at once, maybe we can draw down some of the Japanese troops from Bougainville.

All that is point number one.

Point number two concerns you... and only you.

Before the Japs moved in, a French planter lived here.

His name was Bouchard. Mark that.

A few days ago, somebody calling himself Bouchard radioed a message from this island.

He sent us the layout of the Jap minefields around Bougainville.

Your job is to find out if that message is fact or fiction.

If the message was legitimate, the invasion convoy can act on it- save a lot of lives.

But if it's a trap...

...God help the men in those ships.

Why wouldn't it be legitimate?

A radio operator reads code, not people's minds.

Maybe the guy who signed himself Bouchard is really Sisahamshi Bushahashi.

Maybe Bouchard is dead.

What if he is dead?

Then maybe the Japs will be expecting you.

These are things I don't know. But I know this.

Unless that message is nailed down and verified, the convoy will follow its original plan of attack.

The slide rule boys figure that with good luck we'll only lose 18% of the fleet in the Jap minefields.

That's a lot of dead men.

But it's better than being sucked into a trap and losing the whole works.

So, unless I get the high sign from you...

...count on 18% casualties before they even hit the beach.

But if it was Bouchard who sent that message, and he told us the truth...

...they'll sail in without losing a man.

Well, that's it.

Where do we look?

Our position is here, right on this knoll.

There's the river, the draw of the jungle, that's the main ridge of the island.

That's your river.

There's the draw. Beyond that the jungle.

There's the main ridge of the island.

Bouchard's plantation is-or was- on the other side of that ridge.

And if we find him?

You've got your walkie-talkie.

Let us know, and we'll pass the word on to the convoy.

Code name is Happy Times.

After you find him- if you find him- all groups will rendezvous at 0600 hours.

Supposing we're late, Major...


There's only one pickup. The navy isn't running a shuttle bus.

In or out, up to you.

In just about an hour, our gangs will start looking for trouble.

After that, the Japs will be hunting for all of us, so you'd better get started.

It's important.

"Happy times"?

Happy, happy.

I reckon we'd better get ready to go find this Bouchard.

One thing- why did you pick me?

Scott's orders.

Like a happy Sunday in Tokyo.

We've got a different job. Our job is Bouchard.

Let Scott and his men make the noise.

How do we get by this here beach party?

Circle 'em low and fast.

Somebody pitched the first ball!

If that tank gets into action, it'll cut our Marines to pieces.

Biggerman, if we give you a cover, do you think you can drop a grenade down the turret of that tank?

I reckon.


I thought you said we had a different job.

Things change.

We should've taken 'em at the river. He didn't want you to get your feet wet.

The Japs'll...

...get to a radio.

They're lookin' for us.

The way he died...

Why did he have to die that way?

The grenade made it fast.

Fast? He was burned to death!

Some day we'll have a nice, long talk about it.

You said the Nips weren't our job.

You made him die!

Shut up!

Ask him. Ask him why he changed his mind.

Yeah, Fletch. Why did you change your mind?

I called the turn as best I could.

Like the canal?

You don't belong in this war.

You oughtta be making pins for hand grenades!


Maybe you're right.

But right now we're looking for Bouchard.

We don't even know where we are, Fletch.

We'd better find out before night.

Scott said Bouchard's plantation was on the other side of that main ridge.

It's crazy.

If there is a plantation, if he's there, if he's alive. If! If!

If Bouchard's alive, he'd have had food and ammunition when the Japs came in.

He'd have had to hide it. He couldn't have taken it very far.

Let's find that ridge.

Better let me handle- Never mind!

I'm not that old.

All around us.

Wait, wait.

It's our only chance.


Fletcher. The scorpion...

The grenade hole. Finish it.

I just couldn't stand it-even on Burke. I thought it was gonna sting.

Finish the hole.


What are we doing here? Why don't we get going?

Because soon we'd be dead.

They'll stay there a while, try again later.

Sure. On roller skates.

What did all those years in the Marines do to you-burn your nerves out?


Maybe we gave them the slip. Maybe they won't come.

They'll come.


Just because you were afraid back there in the jungle...

...because you were crazy afraid... reason to call yourself a coward.

Sure. Now you can become a member of the clay pigeon club.

Not clay pigeons, Sonny. Decoy.

Maybe we'll find Bouchard yet.

If we can get us three dead bodies.

Not our own.

All the times I've been scared, I figured I was lucky.

No wife, no kids. Just me.

The best way.

No. Not really.

You don't make sense.

Give yourself time. You'll figure it out.

You gave yourself a lifetime in the Marines.

What else did you figure out?

That a guy's not supposed to be lonely.

Just that.

Thanks. I'll remember.

All I can think about is getting killed.

Let 'em come!

I think they heard you.

There's your first one.


They won't come back for a while.

Pretty soon a greased nip with a knife is gonna come sliding in here.

And I'm not waiting for him.


We need two dead bodies.

This is where I was born.

Thanks, Fletcher.

Thanks a lot.

I'll kill him!

Your winged arm!

He's out there, isn't he?

I don't want you to lose your old-age pension.

It's Burke.

Where's Reynolds?

We got number three.

Get it over with fast. Take care of them like I told you.

They'll be back.

I never wanna have to do anything like that again.

Let 'em come.

Three dead Americans.

Could be.


Don't count on it, sonny.

Let's open up the package and see what we got.

Fletch... if it isn't Bouchard...

The nips'll be waiting.

You're American?

Who are you?

Nina. Nina Bouchard.

You did receive my father's message?

They didn't say anything about a girl.

Is your father alive?


Why did you shoot at me back there?

You spoke Japanese.

You know you could've been killed?


When I shot- I did this?


Where is he?

Where's Bouchard?

I'll take you to him.

Who asked her into this mess?

Who asked us into it?


You sent a message. The minefields.

The safe channel is clearly marked.

It is what I told them on the radio.

My daughter.

She will be safe now.

We'll take you both as far as we go.

The Japanese have searched for us since the message.

I waited here. I knew that soon they would find our trail.

They're good trackers, those Japanese.

You're telling us.

Anybody else on this island?

A few natives.

And now you.

Today, when I heard the shooting across the island, I hoped it was true.

The Americans had come.

They're not coming here.

We're gonna meet 'em day after tomorrow.

We didn't figure on two guests.

We're not helpless.

Come on, or we'll have the whole Japanese army on our tail.

Bouchard, we need that radio of yours.

I have no radio.

You said you sent the message.

Yes. I did.

He did.

One day, a fleet of Japanese boats came from Bougainville.

An important officer from the boat carried some papers to the radio hut.

My father saw it.

That night, he went to the hut and killed the sentry and stole the map that he's just shown you.

There's no reason to point your gun at him.

How far is that radio hut?

Not too far away. Heavily guarded?

Sometimes many soldiers, sometimes fewer.

If we could get to the radio hut, Bouchard could send a message.

They might pick it up.

Why don't we have a look?

She come with us?

I'm not afraid.

That solves everything.

Can't leave her here.

The message is the most important thing.

Two men have already died, and many more will if we don't get it through.

France is also at war. My daughter understands.

I'll do what I can.

We'll try to get you all through alive.

Stinking country.

I'd go nuts here alone.

He's not alone.

Guys always talking about their kids...

I was the only one ever wanted a daughter.

I never knew you'd been married.

I wasn't. It was just talk.

Is that what it is now? "Just talk"?

Don't kid yourself, sergeant.

How long ago has it been since you saw a female?

She's just a kid.

We had one like that in school... with black hair.

I always wanted to date her.

But I never did.

That was ten thousand years ago.

You're pretty young.

That's what you think.

She's just a kid.

She shouldn't be here.

Send 'em through one at a time.

Leave your hair alone!

Why are you angry?

Look, Lena-Nina- whatever your name is, the thing about a war is you're not supposed to think about anything else.

You're the last girl on the face of the earth.

Stay out of my way.

We are within a mile.

Let's get the shooting over with before dark.

It's your party, pop.

Not even a guard.

This what you expected?

I've never seen it like this.

It's our men. Miles away.

Fletch, if anybody's down there, that shooting'll bring-

Bring 'em out.

There must be somebody down there.

There's only one way to find out.

You're ready, Pop?

Not to die. France is even farther than America.

We will send the message.

You stay here.

If anything goes wrong, our men are being met day after tomorrow, 0600. 6:00 A.M.

About halfway up the southwest coast, there's an open shed at the end of the pier.

I know the place.

Good luck.

If our luck isn't so good...

I'm sorry about the rough talk.

Come on, sonny!

Radio hut.

Booby trap.

Whatever it was, they left in a hurry.

You must tell me the exact words to send.

Don't touch anything.

Everything easy, just waiting for us.

This whole place is booby-trapped.

With Scott doing such a wonderful job, the Japs already wrote this place off.

You touch that key to send a message, and this whole place blows up!

How many?

I couldn't tell, but many.


At least we're through with the message.

Didn't send it.

Whole place is booby-trapped. It's like a bomb.

What are they rushing us for?

This bunch doesn't know. They're doing it the hard way.

You got in okay.

I got in, but the whole place is ready to-

Burke! If they think that we're in there-

You gotta cover me, sonny.

Cover yourself, buster.

Hey, you!


We're going away from that rendezvous every minute.

A million Japs. All looking for us.

What will you do about the message?

The message. It's always the message.

We'll take it ourselves.

What-the pickup place? You think we can make it in time?

We should rest now.

It's a long war.

Everybody dies.

You wanna be my girl, Nina?

We can do without that talk.

What's the trouble, Sergeant?

We'd better go.

It's bad to stop.

Don't get any high school ideas, sonny.

I wanna go on living.

So do these two.

So did Biggerman and so did Reynolds.

The tough sergeant... loose again on an island.

You sure handled it great.

Burke, don't-

So you can carve another notch on your gun-next to Guadalcanal.

Are you insane?

Impossible to stay here.

There's a trail not far away.

I'll look for it.

With you.

Any way you want it, Pop.

This thing between you and the other American...


You fight because of me?

Sometimes a girl is like... too much water to a man who's dying of thirst.

He wants it more than anything in the world, but... it'll make him sick.

Is the water to be blamed?


It stays in your mind that they are back there.

You're her father. How do you like it?

My friend, there's a place for everything. Hatred, love...

But not here.

My daughter understands that.

You wanted to leave them alone.

Yes. Because there's something inside that man.

Too much soldier or too little.

But, anyway, we must depend on him.

It is good that he speaks with her.

Route 66.


One yell out of you and I'll cut your heart out.

What are you doing here alone? He must be a deserter.

Why can't you speak English?

Yeah, yeah. Smile.

What's he scared of?

In the jungle- anything, everything.

He appears grateful to you.

Let him be grateful to you.

There's something else wrong, isn't there?

Something about Guadalcanal.

I lost a platoon there.

All but three men, and two of them were killed yesterday.

And he believes it was your fault?

I gave the orders.

But they fight hard- the Japanese.

So do we, when we know what we're fighting, and I was supposed to know.

I'm a sergeant in the Marines. You know what that means?

Yes. It takes years, practice, and training.

I know all about war.

Except the kind they fight on Guadal.

They didn't tell me about the snipers and the booby traps and the infiltration.

You can't blame yourself.

Japs grew out of dust and out of the air.

And every blade of grass seemed to be wired.

I tried playing it smart, I tried playing it careful, but I was only guessing.

They had an answer for every one of my guesses.

I couldn't help guessing wrong.

Every order...

A dead Marine.

But it wasn't deliberate.


But you can't blame them for thinking I'd gone crazy.

Big shot. Order crazy.

Letting them get killed while I stayed behind safe.

You're not like that.

I'm still a sergeant giving orders.

Lousy, stinking, killing orders.

We took a prisoner. Bouchard's with him.

Nobody's hurt.

The enemy.

Couldn't be big and strong and vicious. He's gotta be like that.

I wanted something to hate.

What's worrying him? What's he scared of?

Sure isn't us.

Cut him loose.

Real happy-go-lucky fella, aren't you?

One side's as good as the other, huh? Sure.

It looks like we got ourselves an American spy.

Yeah, the United States.

This sap wants to go to Hollywood.

Anything to oblige.

But first we take you to nice Intelligence Officer.

Then "Hollywoody, Hollywoody. "

Who is he?

Melanesian. Native.

This is what frightened him.

Is he friendly?

These people have no great love for us, but they have their own war with the Japanese.

I told him where we want to go.

He says he can help us, but demands payments.

We have no money.

Not money. Him.

For what?

Tell him we want the prisoner, too.

How can he help us? He doesn't say.

Can we trust him?

We have no choice- if you wish to deliver the message.

Tell him we'll go.

Now we can go fast.


Your sergeant- when did he sleep last?

When I slept. It's a war.

Does a war make us any less human?

I suppose it does.

It robs us even of our dreams.

It leaves us full of hunger.

For you, there will be nothing but the war until your rendezvous tomorrow night.

You understand?


Get some rest.

You got a big day at the office tomorrow.

I don't know about tomorrow.

Okay. Let's not think ahead.

We're alive now.

This is almost like being alone together, isn't it?

You know, I used to dream that one day a boy would come by and take me someplace... without loneliness.

Where we'd always be happy.


I'll take you away.



It's a boat or a plane. Get ashore, quick.

My ankle!

Nina, you wanna stop?

Badly swollen.

We've only got till 6:00 tomorrow morning, that's all.

The meeting place is many hours away.

With Nina, there isn't enough time.

That's crazy. We'll make it.

One man by himself- can he get through?

One, perhaps two.

Burke, you're going alone.

Why me? You're young. That's the reason.

We'll do the best we can. The girl will take her chances.

With who? You or the Japs?

Take your choice.

The girl! Always the girl!

You won't rest till you or she is dead.

Burke... the bitterest thing of all is to die for nothing.

Go now. There's so little time.

Where is he?

You see anything?


He's dead.

Sure. For France.

Oh, no! He never saw France!

He lived all his life in the islands!

The sniper must be that way.

Figure any good bets?

Your job, figuring.

Yeah, I know.

A slight change of orders.

I get the sniper, or vice-versa.

You're wrong.


You and Burke will go together.

The sniper is my baby.

Fletch, you're out of your mind!

What chance have you got?

Look, that stuff about Guadalcanal- I was cockeyed.

You don't have to prove- Burke.

He knows what he's doing.

You're both gonna stay here until you make absolutely sure I got the undivided attention of that sniper.

And then you go.

I give the orders.

You said way back from the start that I'd be in the way.

Hold you back.

There's still time.

Yes. For you.

Without me.

Don't talk crazy.

You said the one thing about war is... is to think of nothing else.

Nothing. No one.

And you-you were right.

I don't want to think at all!

You've got to, Burke!

I'm only one. I've no right to your thoughts.

The convoy...

All those men.

All those lives... or deaths, without the message.

I know.

I do.

The Japs!

You think I could leave you for them?

Come on! Come on out and fight!


Fletch! You all right?

I could've been killed back there. For what?

I was the one who stopped. I told you to get to the rendezvous.

I should've saved the Japs the trouble.

He would've gone on, but for me.

We still have time. An hour. And we're gonna walk, you hear? Walk!


Fletch, you'll kill her!

You'll kill all of us. And the men on the ships, too.

The Albany Night Boat!

We haven't got our tickets yet.

Nina, we're gonna live!

After we tell Scott about the minefields.

Then you can live.

They'll get the other two!

Nina, this is the last lap. Don't crack now!


Gasoline! You'll be French-fried!

Get back here!

Burke! No!


Burke! Burke!

Who gave the orders, sonny?

Any beefs, Pop?

No... not a one.


Scott wrote us off!

Why not?

Two crummy marines.

There's still a Japanese army out there.

Sooner or later, they'll come.

Well, when you know it's the end and the slate's clean...'s not so bad.

Sure. 6-2 and even.

Nina... I never told you about New York.

Tell me now.

There's no such place.

For a while back there, I hated you.

It was mutual.



Back there in the jungle, things got mixed up.

Burke knows.

I know, too.

Here's mud in your eyes, sonny.


I love you.


Where's the Major? Hey, Scott!

Fletcher! Fletch.

How'd you make out?

We found Bouchard. Information was correct.

Get it to the convoy.

Well, we're pulling right out.

We're the last bunch, and we're late.

Who's your date?

Bouchard's daughter. He's dead. So are Biggerman and Reynolds.

What's her trouble?

Her ankle.


What a souvenir.

Get a stretcher.

They'll take care of you now. You can forget about the island.

And you?

I'll be seeing you.

I don't know where you got her, Mac, but she's goin' with us.

Nina, remember what Burke said about, "It's a long war. "

Well, everybody doesn't die.

He'll be seeing you.

You guys have it rough back there?

Listen, sonny- We were born there!