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World War II drama where the action centers around a single maneuver by a squad of GIs in retaliation against the force of the German Siegfried line. Reese joins a group of weary GIs unexpectedly ordered back into the line when on their way to a rest area. While most of the men withdraw from their positions facing a German pillbox at the far side of a mine-field, half a dozen men are left to protect a wide front. By various ruses, they manage to convince the Germans that a large force is still holding the position. Then Reese leads two of the men in an unauthorized and unsuccessful attack on the pillbox, in which the other two are killed; and when the main platoon returns, he is threatened with court-martial. Rather that face the disgrace, and in an attempt to show he was right, he makes a one-man attack on the pillbox. Written by
Robert Pirosh was a Master Sergeant during World War II, serving with the 320th Regiment, 35th Division. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, at Ardennes and in the Rhineland. He commanded a unit in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded a Bronze Star. His other war films pay homage to the American front-line infantry of World War II--in addition to this film, they are Battleground (1949); Go for Broke! (1951) and the TV series Combat! (1962). See more »
McQueen's weapon of choice is his M3 'Grease gun' submachine gun. Yet he carries ammunition pouches for rifle ammunition (5-8 round clips) not 32 round M3 submachine gun clips. See more »
This World War II film is one of the finest I have seen. It features an allstar cast, great direction, a great script and compelling performances.
Steve McQueen plays an American soldiers who thrives on combat. He gets busted from squad leader to Private when he crashes a jeep. His squad gets sent to the front lines, where he clashes with by-the-book Sergeant Larkin (Harry Guardino). Problems are made worse when the Company pulls out, leaving Larkin's squad to cover a huge section of the front lines. In order to succeed, they trick the Germans in various ways to make them think they're a much larger unit.
The film features a powerful central performance by Steve McQueen. While his lines are short and to the point, his facial expressions and movements are just as important. He makes a very convincing front-line soldier, doing a lot of things many other front-line-combat themed war movies of the time (TO HELL AND BACK, etc) leave out.
Supporting McQueen are Bobby Darin, James Coburn, and Mike Kellin all very young. Their characters were unique at the time but may seem a bit chliched and two-dimensional if you've seen a lot of war pictures.
Also lending a hand if Bob Newhart as a bumbling typist who ends up getting commandeered to help hold the front line position. His telephone monlogue scene is a classic and he makes a very believable scared-stiff REMF, just like Jeremy Davies as Cpl. Upham in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
The battle scenes were obviously filmed on a tight budget but are very authentic appearing. They involve soldiers bleeding profusely and screaming in agony -- not something you see in older war films.
All in all, a very well done, realistic and very believable war film. It was apparently based on a true incident.
The DVD is of high quality. It is finally in letterbox format, about a 1.78:1 ratio. The video quality is superb. The sound is mono but very good mono; quite rich. Also included is a widescreen but scratchy and grainy trailer.
I enjoy and admire HELL IS FOR HEROES so much that I am using it as a model for my own WWII home video, BATTLEGROUND.
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