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 "Black Devils" was the nickname of the 1st Special Service Force, The Devil's Brigade (also called The Black Devil's and The Black Devils Brigade), a joint American-Canadian commando unit organized in 1942 . See more »
A shortage of German machine guns must have blighted filming as clearly seen in the ambush scene with the German troops in hollow haystacks - rather than using MG 38 or MG 42 machine guns they use British Army Mk1 Bren Guns & American M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles (although it could be very loosely argued the Bren guns were captured British munitions from earlier in the war, however there would be ammunition compatibility problems as German 7.92x57 ammunition won't work in .303 weapons). See more »
[talking on the radio intercom]
Hello beachhead. this is Dick Ennis.I'm somewhere in the Alban Hills with the survivors. Sorry to take you away from the gaming table general, but I thought you should know you lost a couple pins off your chart. 1st and 2nd Rangers battalions have been wiped out. Did you read that? Of 767 men, there are 7 survivors left to see the result of one more royal foul-up. but this one's unique. This didn't happen because a general was too reckless. But because a general ...
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American director Edward Dmytryk headed to Italy to shoot "Anzio", one the most lopsided World War II epics to come out of the 1960s. Despite some good intentions, this film fails as both an anti-war drama and an action piece.
The film stars Robert Mitchum ("The Enemy Below") as Dick Ennis, a cold and cynical war correspondent that does his work on the front lines with the infantrymen. When the squad he is accompanying gets cut off behind the German lines due to an ambush, he must pick up a gun and help them fight their way back to Allied lines.
The movie has a lot going for it, right from the start. Every actor looks comfortable, especially Mitchum. Robert Mitchum has never been one of my favorite American actors, simply because he always seems to be acting despite the dimensionality of the part, Mitchum can never seem to break out of a box. Here, he looks to be having plenty of fun and seems quite natural in the role. Mark Damon ("Between Heaven and Hell") provides the necessary dramatic opposite as an infantryman who can't seem to agree with Ennis on his policies. Arthur Kennedy ("Attack and Retreat") is the exact opposite of Ennis' character as the incompetent General Lesley, who takes too much time establishing a solid beachhead and allows the Germans to launch an offensive, pinning his men down on the beach. Peter Falk ("Situation Normal, All Fouled Up"), on the other hand, is totally wasted as Corporal Rabinoff, a soldier who has become addicted to combat. Earl Holliman ("Armored Command") is the Sergeant in command of the squad, and he makes the most out of a clichéd-role by giving his character personality. Be sure to watch for Robert Ryan, Anthony Steel, Arthur Franz and Patrick Magee as Allied Generals.
There is only one big battle sequence, which expertly staged and filled with tanks, extras and big explosions. However, its effectiveness is limited because of two key flaws. Primarily, American soldiers are seen to stand up in the open and rush German machine-gun nests, only to be mowed down by overwhelming enemy fire. Secondly, there's a ridiculous scene in which Ennis and a soldier engage in a discussion about the war right in the middle of a fight, despite the fact that bullets and artillery shells are landing all around them! The final, small-scale, climactic showdown with German snipers was much more suspenseful, due to some excellent editing and great music score.
One major flaw in the film is, unfortunately, the script. It's as if "Anzio" can't decide if it wants to be a gung-ho flag-waver, or a downbeat, anti-war story. The first half the film is filled with humorous, almost slapstick scenes, although some of Mitchum's dialog hints that this is going to change and it does, in fact the focus turns around 180 degrees. Throughout the second half of the film, the action stops dead in its tracks so that the characters discuss issues of personal sacrifice, what constitutes above and beyond the call of duty, etc until it's been repeated so much that you can't stand to hear anymore. For all of this discussion, the conclusion is pretty forced. Mitchum says something along the lines of, "Men kill each other because they like to. Maybe if we all sit back and realize it, we could stop the killing and get along." That statement defines over-emphasis. Instead of being a history lesson about the real Anzio campaign, the film turns into a social commentary on Vietnam.
The on-location shooting served the proceedings well, as the film looks like sunny Italy in every frame. The scene in the Italian house looked excellent, and Dmytryk uses wide angles throughout to show off the scope of the Italian locales. The score ranges from victorious and rousing to mournful and depressing, which contributes a great deal to the mood of some important scenes such as the entry into liberated Rome and the significance of one character's death in the sniper sequence.
"Anzio" is a mixed bag, but despite a lack of focus on one theme, it manages to be entertaining and satisfying as a drama, with enough well-staged action scenes to hold it together and help obscure the muddled anti-war sentiments.
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