Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
A Major with an attitude problem and a history of getting things done is told to interview military prisoners with death sentences or long terms for a dangerous mission; To parachute behind enemy lines and cause havoc for the German Generals at a rest house on the eve of D-Day. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reisman was a captain in the novel. He was made a major for the film as Lee Marvin was 42. See more »
The 25-pounder howitzers used during the war games do not appear to recoil. They should in fact recoil the full length of the barrel. See more »
I take it you don't deny your responsibility for the fact that on the night of April 14/15, a military establishment of the United States Army was the scene of a drunken party! At which no less than seven female civilians took an active part!
Major John Reisman:
Oh yes, sir, they took an active part.
[Gen. Worden muffles a laugh]
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The opening credits don't occur until 10 minutes into the film. While it is common nowadays for films to have a pre-credits sequence, it was considered innovative in 1967. See more »
During World War II, Major Reisman is called to a high level meeting to discuss his next mission to train a group of soldiers and prepare them for a mission behind enemy lines. However the `soldiers' that Reisman has been assigned are all sentenced to death or life in prison for their crimes. The mission is a suicide mission on a French chateau where German top brass will be, the aim being to kill as many as possible. But before the mission, the group must pass a training to be considered for pardoning.
Well known by all men everywhere, this is less a serious war movie and more an enjoyable ensemble romp through a training camp, with the final third being the mission itself. This is the film's strength the training sections are very enjoyable and good fun to watch. The mission is punchy and dramatic and works very well as the conclusion to the film rather than the whole film itself (which other `mission' films have to do). The training is slick and enjoyable, not only it is occasionally quite funny but it is also consistently amusing and exciting at turns.
The film's main selling point (increasingly so) is the all star cast, all of whom do really good work. Marvin is tough in the lead and he is well supported by Borgnine, Kennedy, Ryan and Jaeckel playing the other officers. Of the prisoners Cassavetes steals the show with his cocky Franko although he is not short of famous support. Sutherland (although not well known at the time) is good comic relief, Savalas is a little too heavy for the film but adds menace, Bronson is good value, Brown is strong and is well known due to a weepy Billy Crystal! The rest of the dozen give good performances, but I'll be honest and say that the famous faces stuck in my mind more.
Overall this is not a wonderful film and, as a war movie it isn't the best `mission' movie you could find (simply cause the mission is quite short and straightforward. However it is a fun movie that never drags despite the slightly longer than normal running time for this type of movie. The training section and the mission itself combine to form an enjoyable film that is driven by a great cast playing good characters.
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