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The king of average, mediocre Italian action movies, Alfonso Brescia,
does his best work in this action-packed, anti-war commando story,
released in 1967. "Hell in Normandy" may not be the best of a slew of
Italian "commando" movies, but it's somewhere near the top of the pile,
simply because Brescia manages to pack so much into a 90-minute running
American commandos, led by Captain Murphy (Guy Madison), parachute into occupied Normandy, where Lt. Strobel (Peter Lee Lawrence), a German spy, helps them penetrate a flamethrower installations which threatens the landings on Omaha Beach. Murphy is skeptical of his mission's practicality, but Strobel is fanatically dedicated to destroying the base, and the two butt heads several times before the film's bullet-ridden climax.
This was an Italian-French co-production, and was quite possibly shot in France this is noticeable in the first few shots. For once, an Italian war films opens with the landscape actually looking like the country it represents. I can't count the times I've seen semi-arid climates and rock quarries passed off for "southern France", so Brescia's choice of shooting locations earns him major points in my book. The movie looks just as real throughout uniforms, weapons, vehicles and sets all look very authentic. Many Italian directors, such as Leon Klimovsky and Umberto Lenzi, disregarded accuracy in favor of action, and that damaged their credibility. Here, one can respect the time and money Brescia puts into making his film look credible.
This was Guy Madison's first Italian war movie, and he hasn't grown comfortable yet in a part which he would eventually own in the genre he's starred in several similarly-themed films, each helmed by a different director. Man, does this guy get around! That said, he seems a bit unsure of himself as Captain Murphy, quite possibly because the role has its limitations. Murphy is cynical and critical of the way his mission was planned by superiors and how he's been ordered to execute it, but that's about all he gets to say and he says it so many times that his dialog gets old and worn out very fast.
In direct contrast, Peter Lee Lawrence seems to be enjoying himself as Lt. Strobel, and has plenty of good dialog as well as some physically active scenes to be involved in. From the moment we meet him, Strobel is obsessed with the success of his mission, even if it means killing anyone who gets in his way. But he also has a tender side, demonstrated in his love for the French partisan girl Denise (Erika Blanc), a relationship which never gets the full development it deserves.
Brescia then loads his supporting cast with familiar names and faces, most notably, Max Tarilli ("Hornet's Nest"), an always under-used and under-appreciated actor. Here, Tarilli is a vicious German Corporal who is hot on the trail of Murphy's commandos, and never ceases in his search. It's refreshing to see what talent Tarilli has, and he never appears less than fully convincing as the vicious-Nazi-type. Massimo Carocci, Pierre Richard, Giuseppe Castellano, Luciano Catenacci, Gianni Pulone, and Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia all have small parts, too, which give a necessary boost.
When stacked up against similar films, such as "Where Eagles Dare", "Attack and Retreat" or "Tobruk", this little action story doesn't hold up as well. But Brescia takes his craft seriously, and earnestly tries to make everything look and sound as good as possible given the circumstances. "Hell in Normandy" is a well-meaning war film with a good premise and enough good acting, suspense and violent action to keep it entertaining, even if it is all clichéd.
SGT. SLAUGHTER'S RATING: 3 Bullets
Peter Lee Lawrence plays a theatrical actor whose mission is to
infiltrate and destroy a German flamethrower installation at Normandy
Beach before the allied attack there. His mission is only partly
successful, but he is able to join up with a squadron of paratroopers
sent to finish the job and guides them to the installation. Hell in
Normandy climaxes with fairly standard fast-paced war action.
Lawrence was 23 when he starred in this film, and his promising career would be tragically cut short six years later by his suicide. The rest of the cast mixes American and continental European actors and actresses, mostly of the spaghetti western genre. The acting is generally good, though Guy Madison seems a little uncomfortable with his sad-sack paratrooper captain at times. Erica Blanc is excellent as a brave and intelligent member of the local resistance.
Brescia's Hell in Normandy is a cleverly plotted and well-directed military action-adventure centered on events preceding the allied victory at Normandy during World War Two. The film is fictional and makes no pretense at engaging the realities of the battle. But it does remain mostly within the constraints of plausibility. The cinematography is very good - hardly unexpected from an Italian film. But the script is horrendous. The writer included several token American idiomatic clichés - probably at the insistence of the cast - but did way too much exposition through dialog. The version I saw was dubbed. Perhaps the dialog is better in Italian? Recommended for war film fans only.
Spaghetti/War film about a misfit outfit led by Guy Madison who carry
out a suicide mission behind enemy lines , in Omaha Beach . The movie
is set during World War II in the days just prior to the D-Day
invasion. A special parachute unit is sent to destroy a German flame
thrower installation on Omaha Beach . A group of two-fisted soldiers
formed by various experts are drafted to go on a near-suicide mission
and attempt to destroy an installation from a Nazi fortress . ¨Hell in
Normandy ¨ is an entertaining film with Guy Madison as a stiff officer
along with Peter Lee Lawrence posing as a Nazi lieutenant . Guy Madison
leading a group of motley and eclectic soldiers for a dangerous assault
on a beach . In the hands of hardboiled director Alfonso Brescia ,
alias Al Bradley , and a tough-as-leather cast , that's all the plot
that's needed to make one rip-roaring wartime flick . Madison's mission
is two-fold and in violent and cynical style : first turn his G.I.s
into a valiant fighting unit being parachuted , then turn them loose on
a French location in Normandy where they run into partisans (Erica
Blanc) and there Lt. Strobel (Peter Lee Lawrence), a German spy, helps
them penetrate a flamethrower installations which threatens the
landings on Omaha Beach . The first half of the film allows the
colorful cast of character actors to have their fun as they get their
tails whipped into shape and develop shaky relationship with their
leader . The final part is all action , as the brave commando wreak
havoc and then run for their lives . The dangerous mission includes a
selected group formed by a motley and varied squadron played by usual
of Italian B-series . This is a rugged WWII actioner concerning about
an experienced officer , he's assigned by Military staff to train a
group of valiant G.I.s who get a chance to redeem themselves and later
on , they pull off a extremely risked assignment called ¨Operation
Gambit¨ . At the end they must participate in the suicidal mission
behind the enemy lines , to wipe the German group by means of a violent
assault over a strongly protected position .
Guy Madison as Capt. Jack Murphy assumes the character of commando leader along with Peter Lee Lawrence as Lt. Strobel in this ordinary wartime movie regularly directed by Al Bradley . This moving film packs frantic thrills , perilous adventures , relentless feats , and buck-loads of explosive action and violence . The noisy action is uniformly well-made , especially deserving of mention the rip-roaring final scenes on the beach fortress , including some spectacular shootouts , firing and bombing . Apart from the values of team spirit , cudgeled by Madison into his varied group , the film is full of feats , shots and thrills though contains excessive dialog and a lot of night scenes . The notorious Spaghetti actor , Peter Lee Lawrence is good in his usual tough role , here playing the unshakable lieutenant Strobel . Blond German youth Peter Lee Lawrence, who made his uncredited debut in Sergio Leone "For A Few Dollars More" (1965), was the hero in many Spaghetti Westerns. His short cinematographic history can be enclosed in nine years of Italo-Spain co-productions such as "More Dollars for the MacGregors" , ¨Winchester justice¨,"Pistol for a Hundred Coffins", ¨The man who killed Billy the Kid¨ , ¨Fury of Johnny Kid¨ and several others . Rough Guy Madison is good as leader of the motley pack together thwart the Nazi schemes, as well as the largely secondary cast with special mention to Philippe Hersent , Pierre Richard , John Bartha and Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia as Navy officer , all of them habitual secondary players in multiple Italian films and mostly playing brief interventions . Atmospheric and functional musical score and mediocre cinematography in Eastmancolor filmed by Fausto Rossi , being necessary an urgent remastering because the film copy is washed out . This is a wartime typical vehicle and into the ¨warlike commando genre¨ , in USA style which also belong the American classics as : ¨Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich) ¨ Where eagles dare(Brian G. Hutton) and Kelly's heroes(Hutton ), Tobruk (Arthur Hiller), Devil's Brigade (Andrew V McLagen) and many others .
The film is middling directed by Alfonso Brescia . He began directing muscle-men epics as "The Conqueror of Atlantis" ; ¨ The magnificent gladiator¨, ¨La Rivolta dei Pretoriani¨. After that , he continued with Spaghetti Western as ¨Winchester Bill¨ , ¨Ley Del Colt¨ , ¨I Giorni Della Violenza¨ , Adventure as ¨Zanna Bianca¨, ¨Amazons against Supermen¨ and warlike movie as ¨Objetivo Rommel¨ , ¨Misiones Ardientes¨ and this ¨Hell in Normandy¨. Rating : Average but entertaining .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is yet another tolerable low-budget Italian war film, which also
happens to be the most satisfying effort I've watched from this
director. As the title suggests, the narrative centers around the D-Day
landings: the Nazis have prepared a booby trap for the Allies about to
'invade' Europe from the sea, so a select band of paratroopers is flown
over beforehand to nip their plan in the bud!
While I wasn't familiar with any members of the cast other than Guy Madison and Erika Blanc, the film emerges as a fairly engaging actioner which also features a couple of stage actors assigned to impersonate the distinguished professor who invented the Nazi's latest gadget and the young German officer accompanying him. An unusual subplot involves an old French peasant who informs on the whereabouts of the commando outfit (they're being sheltered by his partisan daughter Blanc) because he's afraid of what the Nazis might do to him if they get wind of the situation.
Though the film ends with the D-Day operation itself (shown through black-and-white stock footage), the downbeat climax sees the majority of the Allied squad perish trying to destroy the Nazi's Normandy beach outpost. Nevertheless, there's a healthy dose of comedy throughout with Madison as perhaps one of the most cynical soldiers ever depicted on the screen; my favorite bit, however, was in a scene where a German officer rebukes the guard dogs for failing to detect any trace of the Americans' presence in a barn whereupon one of his underlings (off the screen) quips sarcastically, "You should be glad they didn't die from all the stench!"
The film has probably been out of circulation since its release, as the print I watched was in extremely poor shape: scratched, grainy and excessively dark (yet faded enough at times to expose the day-for-night shooting!).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Spoiler/plot- 1968, A group of French partisans and US Paratroops
attack a super secret coastal defense complex on the Normandy coast
beaches to help the D-Day landings to be less murderous against the
*Special Stars- Guy Madison, Peter Lee Lawrence, Erika Blanc
*Theme- Secret operations during wartime can save lives.
*Trivia/location/goofs- Italian film. D-Day US Army paratroop uniforms are makeshift Italian NATO modern uniforms and have the wrong helmet and camouflage patterns.
*Emotion- A crazy WW2 film about wildly speculative secret operations to cripple the German electronic bunkered coast defenses just before D-Day invasion. It's a comedy in all the wrong places during the war scenes.
Poor Guy Madison was reduced to picking up "coffee and dough-nut" money making second rate Itailian stinkers during the 1960s and early 1970s. I saw this film in Italy and it was the non-dubbed version. Surpringly, I thought Guy came across very well dubbed in! I'm joking! Seriously, Guy looked stiff and unhappy here. He plays a Captain in the U.S. Army who leads a group of doomed paratroopers on a "deadly" mission. Nothing much to the whole thing. Nice uniforms, some stock black and white film on World War II, a bit of action, and really nothing else. If you look hard enough, you can find "cult" actor William Conroy playing a German soldier in yet another of his countless uncredited roles in Italian made 1960s films.
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