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Battle of the Commandos (1969)

La legione dei dannati (original title)
PG-13 | | Action, War | 12 August 1969 (Italy)
Irish Colonel Charlie McPhearson has just had his platoon of twenty-eight slaughtered by German troops. Angered at his superiors for this suicide mission, he takes convicts on his next, ... See full summary »



(story) (as Stefano Bolla), (story) | 4 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Col. Charley MacPherson
Capt. Kevin Burke
Claudio Undari ...
Pvt. Raymond Stone (as Robert Hundar)
Col. Ackerman
Helmuth Schneider ...
Pvt. Sam Schrier
Guido Lollobrigida ...
Pvt. Tom Carlyle (as Lee Burton)
Sgt. Karim Habinda
Franco Fantasia ...
Schiwers, the French Maquis leader
Gérard Herter ...
SS Lt. Hapke (as Gerard Herter)
Mirko Ellis ...
Capt. Adler
Bruno Corazzari ...
Pvt. Frank Madigan
Antonio Molino Rojo ...
Pvt. Albert Hank (as Molino Rojo)
Lorenzo Robledo ...
Pvt. Bernard Knowles
Gen. von Reilow (as Curd Jurgens)


Irish Colonel Charlie McPhearson has just had his platoon of twenty-eight slaughtered by German troops. Angered at his superiors for this suicide mission, he takes convicts on his next, along with fornicating American explosives technician Major Burke, to defuse underwater mines so that a commando squado can prepare for a June 10 invasion to destroy a tank gun. Because Colonel Ackerman, whose troops killed his last platoon, is the leader of the platoon in charge of the gun, McPhearson insists on trying to complete the commandos' mission. Written by Scott Hutchins <scottandrewh@home.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They Challenged the Devil... and Won!


Action | War


PG-13 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 August 1969 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Battle of the Commandos  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Curd Jürgens (General von Reilow) and Wolfgang Preiss (Colonel Ackerman) previously appeared in The Longest Day (1962), which likewise depicted the D-Day landings. See more »


Col. Charley MacPherson: [to his commanding officer] You pig! You dirty rotten *pig*! There were 28 of them, my whole squad. Dead, one by one, *all* of them! And it's ALL YOUR FAULT!
See more »


Featured in Zarpazos! Un Viaje Por El Spanish Horror (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Jack Palance Vs. The Wermacht, Take One.
22 November 2006 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

I love these stupid, silly Italian Euro War movies. They were made for one reason and that was to sell tickets. Historical accuracy, plotting and didactic character development be damned, these were Spaghetti Westerns with tanks and machine guns instead of six-shooters and horses. The dialog and stories were interchangeable, hell they even used the same sets, stock casts of extras, musical composers and technical crews. It really doesn't matter what the story was about, how competent the acting & direction was, only that you could fit two of them on a double bill and have two more just like it in their place next weekend.

Others have already adequately described the plot. This one isn't any more remarkable or inept than any one of them, and is made distinguishable from the pack instead by who participated. The film was directed by veteran grindhouse pro Umberto Lenzi, written in part by his future modern Italian horror guru Dario Argento in addition to a pack of other writers who obviously managed to see THE DIRTY DOZEN & GUNS OF NAVARONE before concocting the potboiler story about an ornery Irish/American officer leading a misfit platoon of offbeat characters in a mission to impregnate another impregnable German fortress lest the allies lose the war, set a rousing musical score by personal favorite Marcello Giombini. If you switch your brain off you will be entertained.

The cast is a gem: Jack Palance earns more alimony money as the tough as nails Yankee commander with a personal grudge against his unit general that results in some priceless one-liners that if spoken by an actor of less than Palance's worldliness would sound absurd. Future Bond megalomaniac Curd Jürgens is well-cast as the somewhat unhinged Nazi Gruppenfuhrer who finds himself outclassed by a bunch of ex-con commandos -- all of them formidable veteran Spaghetti Western character actors: my hero Franco Fantasia, the always enjoyable Thomas Hunter, Claudio Undari, Bruno Corazzari, and the insane Aldo Sambrell. Legend would have it that Sambrell actually assumed his characters into his person, going so far as swinging by town after the shoot wrapped for a few drinks still clad in his costumes. Here he plays a Sikh knife fighting expert due to his somewhat swarthy complexion. He doesn't even really "act" the role, he lets it seep into his own character & just follows the stage direction.

So it's a film populated and made by legends or semi-legends, with the added bonus of Euro Horror siren Diana Lorys, since after all what good is an Italian genre film without some gorgeous woman to ogle. Jack Palance steals the show with a cockeyed performance highlighted by a half Irish accent that he probably fed with a solid half pint of booze during the course of an average day's shoot. Can't blame the guy for turning it into a good time, and it's fun to play "Spot the Location" during the film: Spaghetti fans will note a valley from GRAND DUEL, a ranch house from SEVEN GUNS FOR THE MACGREGORS (plus a couple other I can't think of offhand) and the same Tuscany seacoast featured in practically every one of these things. It is the familiarity with form that makes them so appealing, though it is kind of hard keeping track of which movie is which.

This is the one directed by Umberto Lenzi and starring Jack Palance. That's pretty much all you need to know about it, put away your history text books, pop some popcorn & enjoy.


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