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Another moment when the low rating for a film at IMDb doesn't make
A tight, taut, tough-minded little war movie, this is Corman on a low budget at his absolute best. Most of Cormans problems in his early years derived from a lack of knowing where to cut scenes and move on, and a fatal dependence on the performances of inadequate actors. The editing here is very crisp - even the use of documentary footage is handled well, although its grain admittedly never meshes with that of the film as a whole. And while the acting remains unexceptional, it never becomes excessive in an amateurish way, and it fits with the overall gritty realism of the picture.
Corman benefits here from a surprisingly strong story and script that leaves its thematic issues open to interpretation. The issues receive temporary resolution by the end the hard way - through combat, as is most often the case in a war.
I'm not saying this is a forgotten masterpiece, but it is certainly worth a view, and at 63 minutes hardly threatens to tax one's patience.
Ski Troop Attack (1960)
*** (out of 4)
Ultra low-budget Roger Corman flick about a group of Americans (on skis) stuck behind German lines. The film is certainly very silly but at the same time it remains very interesting throughout. Considering Corman only took two weeks shooting this thing it's rather amazing at how good it came out looking. There's some very nice cinematography and the locations are great. There's really nothing overly special about this film but it does contain some nice action and a rather unique story.
In a snowy German forest, stranded GI's observe stock WWII footage and evade the enemy. Aside from some testy exchanges with a frosty fraulein, the stick-figure characters bark war-comic banalities (though the script's feverish dialogue and structure might have made a swell comic!). The troop's captain is constantly baited by his smug, war-happy sargeant. One assumes a showdown will ensue, but the budget must not have allowed for even modestly choreographed fistcuffs. The equally anticlimactic finale has the soldiers destroying a bridge that's "an impossible target from the air." (??!) Bereft of stuntwork or even a passable master shot, the lucky viewer is left with a jumble of grimacing-face close-ups and mismatched model train footage that even Al Adamson would disown. Roger Corman always blames this dog's shortcomings on production snafus...yet a rookie director employed most of the same cast,crew, and locations for BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (shot back-to-back with SKI TROOP), and that schlocker turned out OK. Corman's apparent strategy was to grab as much footage in as little time possible and hope to cobble together something watchable in post. As a result, many scenes look interchangeable, and there's little dramatic flow. You can make a good cheap war flick with a tiny cast (BATTLE OF BLOOD ISLAND, '60) and scant action (UNDER FIRE, '57), but this sucker should be avoided like a cloud of mustard gas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
During the war in Europe a small band of allied soldiers moving through
enemy territory on skis tries to steer clear of the enemy as they try
to complete their mission of blowing up a train bridge.
By the numbers Roger Corman film notable for its winter setting. Its also is a minor legend in that the attacking German army was played by the local high school ski team. Its an entertaining little film that over comes its been there and done that feel simply because of its snow bound setting. Frankly I remember the film simple because of the snow. Worth seeing simply for that reason.
6 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Shot in a couple of weeks by Roger Corman, Ski Troop Attack was cobbled
together in such a hurry it's a minor miracle it emerges anything other
than an unmitigated disaster. At the time, Corman's brother Gene was in
the process of producing Beast From Haunted Cave in some mountains in
South Dakota, with Monte Hellman directing. Never one to miss the
opportunity of recycling existing resources, Roger bagged the same sets
(and many of the same actors) to create Ski Troop Attack - a 60 minute
wartime quickie blending actual staged actors and scenes with bits of
stock WWII footage. Surprisingly, given the nature of its production,
the film hangs together reasonably well: it has a serviceable plot,
something approaching real character dynamics, and a fairly solid
structure. The acting is generally unremarkable, the editing and
cinematography are entirely average, but for this brand of low-budget
Corman quickie Ski Troop Attack remains a decent enough offering.
A five-man reconnaissance unit led by the young and inexperienced Lt. Factor (Michael Forrest) are on patrol in the snow-swept Ardennes Forest in the winter of 1944. Factor is endlessly at odds with his second-in-command, the older, more battle-wearied and bloodthirsty Sgt. Potter (Frank Wolff). Potter has a taste for killing Germans even though the company has strict instructions to monitor the enemy, not engage them in combat. Suddenly, the German army launches an unexpected offensive and Factor finds his small band at the forefront of the action, in a unique position to observe German movements and report back to HQ. Potter is keen to pick a fight with the enemy rather than skulking in the shadows, but Factor is determined to sneak about gathering valuable information about the enemy's strategy. Factor's small unit soon discover that the Germans are moving supplies and equipment along a vital rail route which crosses a high mountain bridge. The bridge is in a narrow mountain pass, very difficult to strike from above with airpower... but from a ground attack it may be possible to destroy it. They plan to sabotage the bridge, but the job is fraught with danger.
Early on in Ski Troop Attack, the script seems to be sowing the seeds of an interesting clash of interests between Lt. Factor and Sgt. Potter, but this character conflict sadly never evolves into anything of note. Wolff if actually quite good as the snarling, cynical Potter (he's by far the one actor who stands out above the others), but he's surrounded by otherwise mediocre performers. The WWII footage is obviously of a different stock to the dramatic scenes, but it is used sparingly and the differences in the grain never become overly distracting. At 60-ish minutes in length, the film is brief enough to keep your attention and is put together with more coherence than, say, some of the other Corman quickies from the period (such as the dire She-Gods Of Shark Reef or Attack Of The Giant Leeches). While it never ates as a first-rate Boys Own behind-enemy-lines flick, Ski Troop Attack remains competent and enjoyable in its simple, unambitious way. Basic B-movie fodder, but not entirely unenjoyable - you could do a lot worse!
Considering Roger Corman shot this in two weeks, it's an amazingly good- looking film. Quite suspenseful and action-packed with a unique setting -- the ski troops we had in the German mountains. Holds interest all the way through and never betrays a low budget. Very worthwhile.
A five-some of army-type ski dudes tries to thwart evil forces behind
It's 1944 and the 'good' Americans must defeat the 'bad' Germans. To accomplish this goal, our heroes slaughter scores of the enemy, steal a civilian woman's chickens, shoot her in the back, then leave her for dead. This is an Ameican film, right? Not particularly inspiring in any way, but the movie does have the novelty of being different (soldiers on skis).
Sometimes exciting war/adventure film, albeit quite short at about 65 minutes.
This is a very average war film. We follow a small group of soldiers on
For low budget, this works very well. Of course, what Corman and others call low budget is still much more than most of us will ever get our hands on.
We get the story of 5 men, but it soon becomes 4, so 4 characters are followed through. They stray just slightly off the common stereotypes, but not much. We have the leader and second in command at some odds, with a split between the other two men aligning with the two leaders.
We get the excitement of the film feud with the two other men as well, much as minor characters cajole each other in films like "Escape From Fort Bravo" and "Warpath". This one has the Norhterner-Southerner reference, and we feel either both will perish, or both will survive.
The uniforms and vehicles are different, and the scenery makes this unique in war films. Not a great film by any stretch, but not close to the worst.
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