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Hornets' Nest (1970)

A commando unit is dropped behind the German lines in Italy and its mission is to blow up a strategic dam. However, the unit is ambushed and only its leader survives. He is picked up by a ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Von Hecht
Giacomo Rossi Stuart ...
Schwalberg (as Giacomo Rossi-Stuart)
Jacques Sernas ...
Maj. Taussig
Mark Colleano ...
Mauro Gravina ...
John Fordyce ...
Giuseppe Cassuto ...
Amedeo Castracane ...
Giancarlo Colombaioni ...
Ronald Colombaioni ...
Valerio Colombaioni ...
Giuseppe Coppola ...
Luigi Criscuolo ...


A commando unit is dropped behind the German lines in Italy and its mission is to blow up a strategic dam. However, the unit is ambushed and only its leader survives. He is picked up by a ragtag group of local youths, who strike a bargain with him--they will help him blow the dam if he will help them get revenge on the Germans, who have taken over their village and killed their parents. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Meet Captain Turner's Baby Brigade! When they get hurt they cry! When they get mad they kill! Give them a ball, they'll make up a game! Give them a grenade, they'll blow up the world! See more »


Drama | Action | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

9 September 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Il vespaio  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film is based on a true World War II incident that occurred when the German army was making its last stand in Italy. See more »


When the German Major and German Captain enter the radio room after the raid on the village, the radioman 'corpse' in the chair clearly takes several quick controlled breaths by breathing with his abdomen, then visibly swallows, right before he starts holding his breath. He is immediately knocked out of his chair and out of frame off screen by the Captain, probably to prevent more visible breathing from a corpse on the film. See more »


Von Hecht: [after being shot in the arm by Aldo] Just what I need. A shoe shine. Congratulations. You've just captured a whole live German.
See more »


Referenced in Django Unchained (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Italian Anti-War Film
15 November 2002 | by (St. Davids, Pennsylvania, USA) – See all my reviews


This is one of many Italian WWII adventure films to be released in the late 1960s / early 1970s. It's a familiar story, presented in a unique way with some American aspects thrown in.

Leading man Rock Hudson stars as an American commando. His team is parachuted into Italy to blow a colossal, strategic dam. Hudson's unit is ambushed and he is the only survivor. He is "rescued" by a band of Italian youngsters, who con him into helping them wreak havoc on the Nazis who took over their town and killed their families. Meanwhile, Capt. von Hecht (Sergio Fantoni) leads a hunt for Hudson and must cope with the S.S. to do so.

This movie has a lot of fine aspects. First of all, it's got a very good international cast. American star Rock Hudson has had his share of fame in plenty of classic movies; he's had experience in the war movie genre, too, in TOBRUK and the marvelous ICE STATION ZEBRA. You'll see more of the incredibly beautiful Sylva Koscina than you've ever seen before; she's a nurse who's captured to aid Hudson, but is non-essential to the story. Just there to look at ... and there's plenty to see. Sergio Fantoni (VON RYAN'S EXPRESS) is very good as the one-eyed German Captain von Hecht, who will stop at nothing to stop Hudson from destroying the dam. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (BATTLE FORCE, THE LAST 4 DAYS) has a very minor part as Fantoni's aide. Mark Colleano is incredibly good as the selfish leader of the youngster gang. His performance is brilliant and he deserves more credit than he gets. Plenty of familiar "German" character-actors ... Tom Felleghy (THE BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN) appears as a German colonel. Max Tarilli (THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE) as a German Colonel. Gerard Herter (LAST DAY OF THE WAR) as the commander of the dam. Watch for Andrea Bosic from DIABOLIK as a German General.

The action scenes are sparse and involve few extras. The last big scene on the dam is well-done for the most part, but there are still a few corny moments. Several times, the camera focuses on a sole machine-gunner and you can hear men screaming, but you never get to see the victims. The cinematography is marvelous and breathtaking, as this was filmed on location in Italy. The musical score by Ennio Morricone is pretty good, but surprisingly not anywhere near as good as his Leone scores. The script is intelligent is tells a familiar story from a unique viewpoint; showing young pre-teens battling the Nazis with machine guns and grenades is something that's rarely done. No striking dialog or directorial tricks from Karlson, who did the great HELL TO ETERNITY ten years earlier, but it's still a good adventure / suspense flick. The only negative thing I can think of is the HORRIBLY OUT OF PLACE antiwar statement near the end. It stresses that people get so caught up in war that they make horrible mistakes and come to mourn over them later on. Come on, guys -- the first 105 minutes showed war as a big adventure, and the last 5 makes it look like a colossal tragedy. Sure, I think war IS bad and should be avoided if possible; but if you're gonna make an action movie, don't try to make a big statement at the end. It ruins what's been accomplished during the rest of the movie.

I saw this on video from MGM. It's an incredibly rare VHS tape, released for a short time in 1993. I found a brand new one on half.com for a great price and snatched it immediately. The print is pan & scan, except for the credits, which are widescreen, I'd say about 1.78:1. The colors are accurate and striking. There are hardly an flaws like scratches, etc. This is worth seeking out and buying for a decent price.

Overall, for the cast, Morricone music and unique approach to the subject matter, I'll give it a 6/10. With a better ending, it could have been a 7/10.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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