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Highly fictionalized account of the formation of the US Army's First Ranger Battalion in World War II and their first commanding officer Major (later, Lieutenant-Colonel) Orlando Darby. The idea was to create a US unit along the lines of the British commandos. In this account, which focuses on several fictional characters, the story is initially on their training in Scotland and the lives and loves their encounter while there. Their first combat mission was in the invasion of North Africa in 1942, followed by the invasion of Sicily and then Italy itself, including the amphibious landing at Anzio. Written by
At the United States War Department, artillery officer and future colonel James Garner (as William Orlando Darby) persuades superiors he is the man to lead a new World War II combat unit in Europe. Consequently, "Darby's Rangers" are trained. They face tough action, have relationships with beautiful women abroad, and face the inevitable tragedies you've see in many other war movies. Based on reality, this was the penultimate film from director William A. Wellman. He still has a knack for battle scenes, light interludes (like the "dusting" bit) and can punctuate blitzkriegs with the sound of a tea kettle...
"Darby's Rangers" is well produced, freshly cast, but hardly ever less than obvious. Believable on the big screen, in his first "starring role," Mr. Garner is absent much of the running time, as this is really an "ensemble" war drama. An unsubtle Jack Warden (as Saul Rosen) provides narration. The other soldiers' stories are more interesting, with nicely styled Edward "Edd" Byrnes (as Arnold Dittman) essaying arguably the best-written role, handsome young Peter Brown (as Rollo Burns) making the greatest emotional impression, and card shark Stuart Whitman (as Hank Bishop) leading the rest of the pack.
****** Darby's Rangers (2/12/58) William A. Wellman ~ James Garner, Edd Byrnes, Peter Brown, Stuart Whitman
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