War has no victors, only survivors. Killing destroys the killers as well as the killed; because it murders decency, self-respect and ultimately life itself. The story follows in the footsteps of a squad of young American solders from the early days of the Battle of Britain, through the fierce fighting in Italy and France, to the uneasy peace of Berlin. Written by
"Psst! Feind hört mit" meaning "Shh! Enemy is listening" appears in a scene on a wall. Then it changes to incorrect "Psst! Feine hört mit". Then it changes to the correct first version again. See more »
Carl Foreman's "The Victors" is extraordinary for two reasons:
1) it emphasizes the characters over the action
2) while being a "spot the star" flick, this is a film made up of smaller stars.
Among the "smaller" stars in this, we have Vince Edwards, George Hamilton, Albert Finney, Peter Fonda, Eli Wallach and George Peppard. Perhaps they are not as big as the ones who appeared in the popular war epics of the time, but I think it benefits from this approach. The film is a bunch of low-key stories strung together by the war and these low-key actors are perfect for this approach.
There are action scenes. It wouldn't be a war film without them. But after a while, I got tired of action scene after action scene and I appreciated a film that let us get to know these soldiers and how they felt about the war and life. It predates Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" by about 33 years, but it's just as effective.
Carl Foreman was famously blacklisted during the 1950s and only now is his work appreciated. His credits include "The Bridge Over The River Kwai" and "The Guns of Navarone" and in this, his directorial debut, he demonstrates the skill and drama of the earlier pictures along with the character studies. The result: a richly textured film, one of 1963's best. If only more people knew about it. Columbia, if you're reading this, release it on tape and DVD NOW!
**** out of 4 stars
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