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Attack Squadron
(TAIHEIYO NO TSUBASA) 1963, c., 101 min.; a Toho Film

(Review from A Tribute to Toshiro Mifune: 40 Films Starring Japan's Greatest Actor)

Director: Shue Matsubayashi. Screenplay: Katsuya Suzuki. Photography: Takeshi Suzuki, Sadamasa Arikawa, and Sokei Tomioka. Music: Ikuma Dan. Co-stars: Yuzo Kayama, Takashi Shimura, Yosuke Natsuki, Makoto Sato, Kiyoshi Atsumi, Akira Nishimura.

Mifune has played numerous roles as military leaders of various eras. Commencing in the late 1950s, when the subject had become less sensitive and more acceptable for movie audiences, he began to play frequent parts in movies about World War II. Here he portrays Air Force Staff Officer Senda, who is opposed to the official strategy adopted by General Headquarters as the course of the war has changed in 1944. Headquarters wants to throw everything into their attacks on the encroaching American forces and Senda is ordered to gather his best fliers and prepare them for an assault on the enemy aircraft carriers. Senda agonizes over the futility of sending these good men to their certain deaths.

Mifune's own experience as an instructor of aerial photography during the war has certainly lent this and other of his similar performances an added flavor. That flavor is bitterness. Senda, like Admiral Yamamoto or the crusty sergeant if Fort Graveyard, knows very well that war is hell. He would love not to be in that mess, but after all, he is a soldier, and he is stuck. Yet it seems stupid and unfair to have his men, some of Japan's best and brightest, sent out to be slaughtered unnecessarily.

Attack Squadron is also known for the work of special effects director Eiji Marutani, who shot the air battles for this and several other similar films.

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