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During the closing days of WWII, a National Guard Infantry Company is assigned the task of setting up artillery observation posts in a strategic area. Lieutenant Costa knows that Cooney is in command only because of 'connections' he had made state-side. Costa has serious doubts concerning Cooneys' ability to lead the group. When Cooney sends Costa and his men out, and refuses to re-enforce them, Costa swears revenge. Written by
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On the 27 February 1956, director Robert Aldrich wrote a letter to the Chief of the Motion Picture Section of the Pictorial Branch of the US Department of Defense (DOD), Donald Baruch, protesting this movie's rejection by the US Army and US DOD. It stated: "Theatrically and film wise, moral values are measured in comparatives; strength is measured against weakness; heroics against cowardice . . . We feel strongly that our film is one that shows beyond question qualities of moral righteousness, leadership, courage, heroism and above all, personal integrity on the part of both enlisted men and officers of the Army. To make characters white it is necessary to have a reflective comparison against characters that are not white. Such is the case in our film." In a later 11 March 1956 reply letter, Aldrich added: "No citizen sets out intentionally to defame the defense organization of his country. There obviously can and at times should be differences of opinion as to what is for the good of the country and what is not. Should one lose such an argument at such a level, fine, but never to have the chance or the opportunity to make that argument to me seems a little ridiculous." See more »
Throughout the picture, German infantrymen use what seems to be some variation of the water-cooled Browning 30-caliber machine gun, which was a U.S. weapon. Also, the German tanks don't resemble any Panzers in use during World War II. See more »
Sfc. Tolliver, Fox Co.:
[refusing a drink]
Captain, down around where I come from we dearly love our whiskey. But we don't drink with another man unless we respect him.
See more »
One of Robert Aldrich's classic war movies explores pyschological pressure and just how war effects men mentally. Even the "good guys" have their bad sides, and the bad guys are so screwed up you either sympathize with them or hate them.
During the fall of 1944, Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert) commands a weary infantry company. Lt. Costa (a young Jack Palance) realizes that Cooney is unfit for command when he freezes in combat. Costa and close friend Lt. Woodruff (Bill Smithers) try to inform their superior, Colonel Bartlett (Lee Marvin sporting a southern drawl) of Cooney's incompetence; instead, White wants to stay out of the way and hopes for the best. He owes Cooney a chance to become a hero so he can look good back home. Well, as you might have expected, Cooney again freezes in combat, this time costing the lives of several of Costa's men - and Costa goes looking for vengeance in an awesome climactic sequence.
The supporting cast is dotted with familiar faces, including Robert Strass from STALAG 17 as an oafish, emotional dogface; the late Buddy Ebsen (BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL) as Costa's loyal platoon sergeant; and Richard Jaeckel (who's appeared in at least a dozen war flicks) as another young soldier. Kudos to Bill Smithers, who does a fantastic job in an early role as Costa's rational friend. His final scene will leave you stunned and reeling.
The movie features a number of memorable scenes which combine physical action, superb dialog and emotion perfectly. One scene in which a mortally wounded Jack Palance prays that God will let him live long enough to kill Cooney is gut-wrenching. Interestingly, both Cooney and Costa have lost their grip on sanity. It's clear from the beginning that Cooney is a whackjob, and Costa is perfectly sane. But he becomes madly (no pun intended) obsessed with killing Cooney, that he forgets everything else - including his own men which is fighting to save. Instead of focusing on thousands of troops and big explosions, Aldrich delivers enough punch in his small-scale story to knock you down. Interiors and exteriors are beautifully shot, confining the action within small spaces to deliver maximum intensity and efficiency.
ATTACK! is an honest film - yes, this type of thing did happen; read or see BAND OF BROTHERS (particularly episode #7) to witness a brutally accurate account of flawed leadership resulting in disaster. I give an 11/10.
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