A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but ... See full summary »
Andrew V. McLaglen
Ryan, an American POW, leads his fellow prisoners on a dangerous escape from the Germans in Italy. Having seemingly made errors of judgement, Ryan has to win the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding. Written by
According to the memoirs of the producers the original choice to play Sgt Bostick was vetoed by the star. See more »
When preparing the replacement orders to direct the train, Ryan reads the name "Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm von Kleist" from a printed form. Later in the movie, at von Kleist's HQ, the same title appears on his office door. However, a subsequent shot of the form shows only the rank (Obergruppenfuhrer [sic]) and the last name (von Kleist) of the signatory. There would be no way for Ryan to know the officer's first name. There are a number of errors here. Firstly, Obergruppenfuhrer was an SS rank. Von Kleist was a Wehrmacht (army) officer and would never be referred to using an SS rank. His correct rank in 1943 was Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal). Secondly, Field Marshal von Kleist's first name was Paul, not Wilhelm. Thirdly, in 1943 von Kleist was the commander of Army Group A in the Caucasus (on the Russian front), not the general staff. See more »
The film credits and all promotion publicity still say "A Cinemascope Picture", and Alfred Newman's "extended" 20th Century-Fox fanfare is still heard on the soundtrack as the picture begins, but most of the film was actually shot in Panavision, at Frank Sinatra's insistence. See more »
From a slow start this build into an exciting if somewhat unrealistic war film. However, it was designed for entertainment and not to depict any remotely historical fact.
The cinematography and scenery look good and although no expert on trains, they look from the right period. The characters are not fleshed out but as this is an adventure film this lapse is not too important. Some of the main characters are also casualties by the end thus avoiding the usual Hollywood line from that period of everyone escaping without a scratch.
I'm not a big fan of Sinatra as an actor but he does well here depicting a flawed character who appears both likable and unlikeable. It is established early in the film that Col Ryan is not a career airman and has limited military experience and so it is not surprising that he makes some key mistakes although he does learn from them.
The supporting cast is good although with the exception of John Leyton far too old to have been on military service.
Not up with the very best WW2 films but well above the average.
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