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Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill leads the 3,000 American volunteers of his 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), aka "Merrill's Marauders", behind Japanese lines across Burma to Myitkyina, pushing beyond their limits and fighting pitched battles at every strong-point. Written by
Martin H. Booda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The mule's name is Eleanor all through the movie - after Muley dies, Ty Hardin calls her Elmer in the cave: "You've got good cover in here, Elmer". See more »
Do you know what I'm going to do after the war? I'm going to get married and have six kids. Then I'm going to line them up and tell them what Burma was like. And if they don't cry, I'll beat the hell out of them.
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Gritty, Mostly-Authentic War Film; Jeff Chandler's Last; Powerful
Myitkyina, pronounced "Mitchinah"--remember the name. this is the objective in this gritty, tough-minded, mostly-authentic and unforgettable war movie. There is little Hollywood gilt about the film, as many viewers have noted; it was not made to be thrilling, event-filled or filled with speeches. Its theme is the limits men have, and how approaching or exceeding such limits of mind, body and emotions can affect men in an emergency or wartime situation--in this case the volunteers of Frank D. Merrill's unit in world War II fighting in the jungles of Burma.The unit is first discovered in the midst of a nasty and fatiguing jungle combat with Japanese soldiers; credit, as several reviewers have noted, is given to the brave British troops are carrying the main battle. But this unit has a single mission--to take Myitkyina, crawling there over mountains and through malarial jungles, fighting fierce opposition all the way. Not your average war film, this is the dramatic story of men in combat told by a man who had been there, and whose films are always short on gimmicks and long on the demand for courage--and made about the man who can answer that call the best. Writer-director Samuel Fuller used other writers, notable Charlton Ogburn III and Milton Sperling, but the main part of this late war film is his own. Jeff Chandler, wearing steel-rimmed glasses, played Brigadier General Merrill . He had died of a botched operation in hospital by the time the film was out, at the end of an illustrious career than should have had many more years to run. This is an award caliber performance in any year. As his second, there is Ty Hardin, good enough in the best role of his career as a strong young soldier. Andrew Duggan narrates and plays the unit's doctor with his usual skill; others in the nearly-all-male cast include dependable Claude Akins, Peter Brown, Will Hutchins, John Hoyt as General Stilwell, and Pancho Magalona. William Clothier gets the credit for the very atmospheric outdoor cinematography, and Howard Jackson for the music, which used additional older works by Max Steiner and Franz Waxman. There are prettier war films, and films about war with a more of a varied choice of scenes. But this Spartan production is among the most harrowing looks at the harsh realities of war ever put onto the screen. "They took Myitkyina", says the narrator simply at the end; cue the closing music. Some few films tell us what men are capable of achieving by showing them being tested to the limit. This films tells us that there were men once in British and United States uniforms who passed a severe test with flying colors. And that is quite a lot for any film to accomplish, especially one as engrossing as is this unrelenting narrative of combat.
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