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Roscoe Lee Browne
Toward the end of World War II, a small company of American GI's occupy an ancient castle. Their commander has an affair with the countess in resident. One guy falls in love with a Volkswagon. A baker among them moves in with another baker's wife. A group of shell shocked holy rollers wander the bombed out streets. A GI art historian tries vainly to protect the castle and its masterpieces. Written by
Jim Sadur <email@example.com>
In a very typical mistake for the period, the "German" tanks are all ex-Soviet T-34-85. German tanks were simply unavailable, but no attempts were made other than painting them Grey, which was also incorrect for the period. See more »
Sfc. Rossie Baker:
[enterting brothel with loaves]
Everybody should eat more bread. Feeds the heart. And remember, the heart's the second-most important organ in the human body.
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War is hell and war is insane, we've been told many times before, but rather than a bitter, angry polemic, this film is a surreal, dark-humored allegory that is as light as a fairy tale at times but ends up being the movie 'Apocalypse Now' wanted to be. It's set in a time and place that lend themselves to unreality. Toward the end of World War II the Germans are defeated yet continue on with their destructive fighting. A motley group of war-weary Americans comes upon a 10th century castle somewhere in the wintry countryside of France. Their commander (Burt Lancaster) stubbornly decides to fortify the ancient treasurehouse and put up resistance to the enemy rather than passing it by, risking the castle's destruction along with a millennium's worth of acquired art.
It's impossible to imagine this movie being made even five years before it was, but by 1969 the Vietnam War had done a number on a lot of people's thinking and provided some different perspectives. A brilliant job is done by director Sydney Pollack along with writers David Rayfiel and Daniel Taradash of adapting a novel by William Eastlake into this funny, horrifying and strangely beautiful film.
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