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|Index||74 reviews in total|
The movie had a profound impact on me when I first saw it. Having been brought up on the standard, sanitised British war movie 'Attack!' gave me a more realistic impression of what it may have been like. Jack Palance is no typical central character for this sort of movie and is in a different league to the average central character in a British war movie. No matter how many times I see the movie I'm left thinking he was undervalued.
Yet more proof that Jack Palance could really act!
His Joe Costa, a decent, tough, and honorable guy, is matched wonderfully by Eddie Albert as Costa's incompetent and sniveling commanding officer (a great portrayal of a weasel in action).
And any movie that has both Buddy Ebsen and Lee Marvin deserves a look.
Great cast, great dialog. Silly-looking "tank" mockups are the only drawback I can think of.
I rate it an 8 out of 10.
Jack Palance was always a great star, ugly face and hateful roles with lots of heavy breathing through his nose. In this picture as Lt. Joe Costa, he could do anything, blacksmith to all time Army Hero! I call him PUSH UP JACK, after his acceptance of his Oscar in '92 for "City Slickers"91. Eddie Albert( Capt. Erskine Cooney) made you hate him, especially when he ignored a request from Lt. Joe Costa to back up his platoon when trying to attack a German Pill Box. If Eddie made you hate him, he performed his role just as the director wanted. However, he was better cast in " Green Acres" '65 TV Series along with one of the GABOR'S!! Lee Marvin,(Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett) clearly showed his great acting talents and quickly became a Super Star after his performance in this great Classic Film. This is a must see movie for all generations.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was perhaps the first of the post-WW II movies that emphasized disillsion and cynicism in lieu of glory; it pre-dated "Hell is For Heroes" (just as cynical) by six years. It's December of 1944 and an American company is commanded by a pusillanimous and cowardly Captain who got his job owing to his colonel's favoritism - the colonel (an oily Lee Marvin) needs the captain's powerful father for post-war political influence. The colonel (played marvelously by Eddie Albert) costs many men's lives by his cowardice, and senior platoon commander Lt Costa (superbly and intensely acted by Jack Palance) threatens to kill the captain if it happens again. And that's only the first part of the movie! The only fault this brutal film has is a budget that wasn't as high as it could have been regarding the scope of the battles. But it's a great movie, and finally on video.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ATTACK! is a decent WW2 film made in a decade inundated with
similar-looking pictures. It was an early feature in the career of
director Robert Aldrich, who lends the film a touch of class missing in
some of the cheaper genre efforts. The one thing that makes this film
really stand out, though, is the effort to characterise the main
players, rather than simply emphasising the action.
This is just as much a psychological thriller as it is a war film. For a lot of the running time, the characters are holed up in single locations and fighting each other rather than the enemy. The battle of wills between hero Jack Palance and coward Eddie Albert is quite electrifying, building to some truly nail-biting scenes at the climax that buzz and crackle with power. You don't often get to experience that in war films.
Palance is the real stand-out in this movie, finally getting the chance to play the hero after years of imposing henchman-type roles. He conveys his character's anguish very well and the bit where he tackles a couple of German tanks is incredible. Albert is well cast as his foe, and the likes of Lee Marvin, Robert Strauss, and Peter Van Eyck supply good supporting turns. ATTACK! is a film I'm surprised people don't know better because it's very impressive.
A trio of fine character actors head the cast of Robert Aldrich's
low-budget war film, "Attack," which is set in Europe during World War
II. Based on a play by Norman Brooks, the taut, tightly directed film
depicts a struggle between heroism and cowardice, professionalism and
incompetence, hard-earned rank through merit and unearned rank attained
through personal connections. Among the American infantry assigned to
establish observation posts are Jack Palance, whose Lt. Joe Costa is a
tough, but compassionate soldier, whose bravery and leadership are
unquestioned. Costa's superior officer, Capt. Erskine Cooney, played by
Eddie Albert, was handed his rank because of his father's military
connections; the cowardly Cooney is over his head both as a military
strategist and as a commander of men. The third member of the lead trio
is tough, wise Lee Marvin, who plays Lt. Colonel Clyde Bartlett,
Filmed in black and white by Joseph Biroc largely on sound stages and the studio back lot, the exterior battle scenes have a gritty feel, although the shadowy interiors often resemble a 1950's television drama. However, despite a B-movie budget, the performances throughout are excellent, including such other stalwarts as Richard Jaeckel and Buddy Ebsen, although Palance and Marvin are the standouts. Events lead to a moral dilemma, whose resolution will be fodder for much post-viewing discussion; whether or not the ending was dictated by the period in which the film was made is also debatable, because contemporary audiences may be more open to an alternate decision than those of the Eisenhower era. "Attack" is an excellent, if lesser known Aldrich film that deserves a wider audience, if only for the performances of Palance and Marvin.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I always remembered this intense war film with its blazing performances
ever since I saw it in the late 50's.
During the fighting in Europe in 1944, tensions run high in a company of U.S. infantryman when the cowardice of the company commander, Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert), cause losses among his men. One of his platoon leaders, Lieutenant Costa (Jack Palance), threatens to kill him if he costs the life of one more man. But Cooney has the protection of his commanding officer, Colonel Bartlett (Lee Marvin), who hails from the same hometown. Everything comes to a head during a German counterattack.
It would be carping to find too much technical fault with this film, despite a small budget it looks good and the military action seems convincing, although the Russell Ranch used for the outdoor scenes seems about as open as the Russian Steppes.
Much is made of the fact that the unit involved is from the National Guard, which carries issues from the region back home in which it was raised, especially the relationship between Cooney and Bartlett. Of all the WW2 films from that time, "Between Heaven and Hell" starring Robert Wagner is the only other one I can think of where this was also a subject (Buddy Ebsen was in both films).
The internal conflict drives "Attack" as Cooney and Costa go over the edge with stunning performances from Palance and Albert.
Costa, although not without fear, overcomes it with a sense of responsibility to his men and the mission. Cooney on the other hand has never won the battle against fear; the way he makes excuses for his failures is wince-inducing.
The most balanced soldier is Lieutenant Woodruff who does his duty, but also has the moral courage to stand up for what he believes in maybe he best represents those ordinary men who stuck to the job and won the war.
Eddie Albert actually served with distinction in WW2. "Attack" was made just 10-years after the war, and a number of the cast had served in the conflict: Jack Palance and Lee Marvin of course, but also Buddy Ebsen (Coast Guard), Richard Jaeckel (Merchant Marine) and Peter van Eyck (U.S. Army) many of the staff behind the camera would also have served.
I think when we watch movies from that era; it adds another dimension knowing this. Those people invested a great deal of equity into films such as "Attack". In a way, WW2 movies from that period can never be remade with that same level of involvement.
Robert Aldrich's "Attack" is a WWII film from 1956 that feels decidedly
post-Vietnam in its cynicism, anarchism and flippancy. It feels
somewhat akin, yet opposite, to the following year's "Paths of Glory,"
a film with its feet more firmly in the ground of defiance.
The heart--and guts, one might say--of the film is Lt. Joe Costa (Jack Palance), a man with a personal set of rules that may or may not match up with God's or man's. He butts heads with Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert), a cowardly--and not the smart kind, the whimpering kind-- drunk who only holds his high rank through personal connections. Their animosity towards one another begins at a card table, but soon escalates beyond nasty words between drinks.
One might be quick to label "Attack!" as an anti-war film, considering its disillusionment with top-down decision making; the problem with which is that it's like Christmas lights, in that if one goes out, it creates a chain-reaction of dysfunction. But, the film acknowledges chaos cannot reign as well, and the deals with that through Lt. Harry Woodruff (William Smithers). Nevertheless, the film could hardly be called reverent.
Palance, as he always does, milks every last second in front of the camera, turning the simplest motion or grunt into an attempted Shakespearean monologue--I'm surprised the man doesn't have bruises under his eyes from blinking. Albert, as Palance's foil, is effective, but almost goes too far into sniveling baby territory and becomes too much of a "movie villain," but that's more the writer's fault. The film's middle-ground, Smithers shines in a dim role, anchoring the outrageous events around him.
More than just philosophizing on the bureaucracy of war, "Attack!" brings the goods, and by "goods," I mean tense action sequences, thrilling "the horror, the horror" moments and shocking deaths. Chiefly, there's a moment where Jack Palance goes toe-to-toe with a tank, and, well, it's closer than you think.
Despite its sensationalist title, "Attack!" is far more than flying bullets and pumping fists--though in short supply, it's not. While its phasers are set to stun, the film points a finger at the things law and order can't fix--sometimes you just have to kick the television to make it work. It's not a political film, but it's a film about politics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the bloodiest days of the second world war, half of Lieutenant
Costa's platoon is wiped out during an attack on a German pillbox
because the cowardly Captain Cooney failed to reinforce them. Cooney
only holds such an important rank due to the fact that his superior
officer-Lieutenant Colonel Bartlett-owes a favour to Cooney's father
who is a prominent judge stateside. All of the men in the platoon,
especially Costa, are disgusted by Cooney's spiritless incompetence.
However the Colonel is more than willing to turn a blind eye because of
his political aspirations after the war. When Costa and his outfit are
trapped by enemy fire in a small town, Cooney once again refuses to
reinforce them and more lives are lost needlessly. With the battle of
the Bulge now raging around them, tensions between Cooney and Costa
boil over, causing the irate Lieutenant to crack. In the midst of an
overwhelming German counterattack and consumed by murderous anger,
Costa makes a dangerous resolve...
At first glance Attack! looks like a typically generic flag waver, but as the synopsis indicated, it cuts much deeper than the jingoistic propaganda pop corn flicks of the era. Made at a time when such (pro) war movies were still very much in vogue, Attack! is one of Hollywood's earliest anti-war films. Robert Aldrich' anguishing character study alienated him from the Pentagon and is all the better for it. Attack! is one of the most sobering accounts of war ever lensed. Based on Norman Brooks' play "Fragile Fox", the script is cleverly cynical and the film itself deliciously baroque. Aldrich relishes deconstructing the effects of war on the soldiers, both physical and emotional, whilst tackling hot topics like cowardice and corruption in the ranks. Take Captain Cooney for example, an individual who would be much better off sitting behind a desk where he would be free to wallow harmlessly in self pity. Instead he has been installed into a position of power whereupon he is called to fight, thus said self pity becomes a destructive force in itself. Here we have a cancerous bureaucratic initiative coming into play as it is the manipulative Colonel Bartlett who deliberately sustains Cooney in such a position of prominence, just so he can keep a promise to Cooney's magistrate father who guarantees him an illustrious governmental position as soon as the war ends. Bartlett is a villainous snake who plays with the lives of his men as well as Cooney's vulnerable mental state in order to fulfil aforementioned warped political ambitions.
The three leads deliver tour de-force performances. The electrifying Jack Palance is on brilliantly choleric form as the grizzled Lieutenant Costa. By the film's second half, his lust for retribution has initiated a spiralling descent into insanity and Robert Aldrich exploits the character's rage to a fantastic advantage. You'll love to hate Eddie Albert as Cooney. Near the end of the movie, his cowardice transforms him into a crazed sadist. Ironically, Eddie Albert was decorated for bravery during the war, but still plays the irresponsible coward with unparalleled professionalism. Lee Marvin is loving every second of his screen time as Colonel Bartlett and his rousing energy is infectious, his Southern drawl permeating an air of menace. In what I would call one of the most horrific but awesome sequences in the history of cinema, a frenzied bazooka-wielding Costa gets one of his arms brutally crushed when a tank grinds onto it!. His raucous agonised roaring combined with some savagely contorted facial expressions make the sequence all the more ferociously obscene. It's a truly shocking scene that was violent for the 1950s and is still trenchant today, but conveys spectacularly combat in all it's malignant ferocity!. I've always been obsessed with it's sheer abrasiveness and even if this sequence does look rather dated now it doesn't make it any less grotesque. The images of the helpless Costa trying to roar the pain away as he is viciously restrained by the tank is unlike anything I've ever seen in a war movie, it curdles my blood in the most scabrous of ways!. The final act is nearly just as amazing, when the ravaged zombie-like Costa miraculously stumbles into a cellar to do away with Cooney once and for all.
Attack! has to be the greatest war movie of the 50s and a contender for the greatest war movie of all time. A rough masterwork!. 10/10
During WWII, an incompetent and sadistic army captain sends a platoon on a suicidal mission. This is a tough, gritty action film that belies its origins as a stage play. Palance is fine as the platoon leader who clashes with his crooked captain, played with the right degree of sliminess by Albert. The good supporting cast is peppered with such familiar faces as Marvin, Jaeckel, Ebsen, Strauss, and Smithers, with the last making an impressive film debut as a conscientious lieutenant. It seems to run out of steam in the middle and turns a bit melodramatic with the psychological angle, but packs a punch overall. Aldrich excelled in these types of films, focusing on men of action.
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