Allied forces land at Anzio unopposed but instead of moving straight inland their commanding officer decides to dig in. A battle-hardened war correspondent borrows a jeep and drives to Rome and back without meeting any German forces, but his report on this absence of the enemy is discounted. By the time it is finally decided to make a move the Germans have arrived in strength and a prolonged and bloody fight ensues. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
The Rapido River was the site of a major assault by the US 36th Infantry (Texas) Division. The attack was repulsed by the Germans with many casualties (143 killed, 663 wounded and 875 missing) The 36th Division was destroyed as a combat capable unit. See more »
The nickname, "Black Devils" (or "Devil's Brigade"), was a nickname acquired after the battle of Anzio. It would not have used been prior to the battle. See more »
[referring to a radio that went dead]
Ain't that a bitch? A dumb, dirty stupid useless bitch!
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When Winston Churchill was asked to appraise the Anzio operation he said that instead of hurling a wildcat on the beach and flanking the Germans the 36,000 allied troops at Anzio were nothing more than a stranded whale.
Of course the whole Anzio landing was Churchill's own idea, but to give him some credit it was an attempt to try and break the logjam of the Italian offensive. The Allies had landed back in 1943 at Salerno and Churchill's 'soft underbelly of Europe' proved to be armor plated. Progress was measured in yards. It wasn't like the trench warfare of the first World War, but it was enormous American, British, Canadian and other assorted allies casualties.
Anzio Beach was selected for a landing up the Italian coast near Rome to both outflank the Germans and maybe take Rome. It worked, but the American commander John P. Lucas moved too cautiously having remembered the 21 Day pitched battle at Salerno in those first landings in Italy. Field Marshal Kesselring was able to bring down reinforcements from the north and contain the Allies on that beach. There in fact they stayed until they linked up with the main offensive months later, just before the American Fifth Army liberated Rome officially on June 5, 1944.
The story of the military failure of Anzio is told with fictional names as Robert Ryan, Arthur Kennedy, and Arthur Franz play Mark Clark, John Lucas, and Lucian Truscott respectively. Truscott is the guy who relieved Lucas and kept the Allies from being driven off the beach, although to be fair to Lucas his priority was a secure beachhead and he certainly succeeded.
The other story of the film Anzio is that of Ernie Pyle like war correspondent Robert Mitchum who drives all the way to an unguarded Rome and then gets caught with a bunch of American GIs and one Canadian in trying to get back to Anzio beach.
Earl Holliman, Reni Santoni, and Peter Falk play some of the soldiers with Mitchum and they do well. This is definitely not a war for glory for them, they're just trying to survive out there. Falk particularly is riveting in playing an American who was wounded and invalided out of the American army from the Pacific Theater who then moved to Canada to join their army. Why you would ask, because he's grown to like it and has a real jones for combat.
Anzio unfortunately doesn't concentrate on either story long enough to tell it in the best possible way. It had potential to be a great film, but falls short. In addition Jack Jones's singing of the theme song is jarringly out of place.
What I would like is someday for someone to tell the story of the original landings in Italy at Salerno, Messina, and Brindisi. That would make a great motion picture if done right.
When you watch Anzio you are sad for the colossal waste of human life it was, especially since the objective wasn't obtained. And a great story needs better telling.
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