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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A rare hidden diamond !

Author: Dimitris ( from Greece
25 October 2001

Clive Rees has made a wonderful "dark" film based on Jean-Paul Clebert's book which describes a WWII story that one can hardly believe, yet true! The film was ahead of its time and the production suffered from financial problems and lack of faith in the film. This caused in cutting down scenes, and finally in never releasing the film, despite the great stars involved in it (Peter Sellers, Jeremy Kemp, Peter Vaughan, Charles Aznavour and others)! Since then, the film has appeared a handful of times in festivals & retrospectives and was released as a VHS in USA (1984). Yet, the VHS version is a vulgarly abridged one where entire scenes are missing... I was happy to help the film be part of a Peter Sellers retrospective in the annual Athens International Film festival (September 2000), held by Sinema magazine. Clive Rees attended the screenings and brought with him the directors' cut version of the film, which runs about 15 more minutes. The result is a totally different film, a poetic creation, a really great drama, with wonderful performances of the participating actors! The audience gave 95,3% positive votes for the film and gave a long, spontaneous applause, which I think was, at last some reward to Clive Rees' unlucky film. If only had the film been released nowadays, I am pretty sure it would have had a completely different chance. Now, at least it deserves a great DVD version and I hope it soon will (but of course it would have to be the director's cut and hopefully a making of documentary). Does anyone listen???

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Wow! Wow! True story? What a great movie anyway!

Author: kulaboy ( from United States
26 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an amazing film. Listen for the movie soundtrack... yes, what soundtrack? There is a little music at start and end, and then... the silence becomes the tomb that these men are trapped in. It's based on a book, and I don't know if it's a true story or not, but I'd love to find out. This isn't a flashy movie and it's darkly lit and the sound (on my video anyway) is poor. But wow! Men trapped in a tomb with no hope of escaping for SIX YEARS. What a story. There is enough food, water, liquor and candles to last them for most of the movie.. the only thing is, being trapped near the ocean without any hope of escape, the men face boredom. Interesting relationships bloom and ways of passing the time, such as games, are the men's only escape. When a bicycle is discovered, the men go crazy with delight.

This is a tough film to watch. It's scary to imagine it happening. And there are good, good performances by the crew involved. I saw it because of Peter Sellers- I came away realizing this movie is stolen by the whole cast and I wish it would be seen more and appreciated. This is a film I think Alec Guinness would have appreciated.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Blockhouse-director's cut : FANTASTIC !!!

Author: Dimitris Verionis (
6 December 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Last September I had the chance in co-organising a retrospective for Peter Sellers for Athens' international film Festival("Sinema" magazine)and amongst the material selected, top of the list to be exact, was "The Blockhouse". Clive Rees, the film's director, flew to Greece to attend the screening and brought with him his own version of the film. Well, anyone who has seen the VHS version that was distributed in the early 80s in the US, should better forget it! The director's cut was fantastic and what seemed "strange" in the other version(where, even a death was missing, along with some of the film's most beautiful scenes), now was complete and absolutely wonderful. The film is a drama, based on a true story of seven men captured in a German blockhouse, where all the exits are destroyed. They find there food, candles and wine and two of them survive until their (accidental)rescue, six years later. All performances are great(Peter Sellers, Charles Aznavour, Jeremy Kemp, Nicholas Jones, Per Oscarrson, Leon Lissek, Peter Vaughan)and Clive Rees has given us a film of strong emotions and unforgettable atmosphere. I strongly hope the film will find its way on DVD (and I hope it is the director's cut that would be chosen)! A great movie! But beware, despite Sellers' involvement in it, the film is not a comedy! It's is a drama... A great one!

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The great lost performance

Author: num-num ( from Athens, Greece
12 October 1999

This film could have been a masterpiece as the cast was great and the story was moving.Peter Sellers gives an excellent performance, in one of his most dramatic roles, but the film was hampered by the bad sound (mostly).What's more, its direction didn't help much and it is sad that great performances of most of the actors, remained, for many years,lost and forgotten.

I guess its grade should be 3 stars.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

a rarely seen and underrated peter sellers gem.

Author: MIKEHILL38 (MIKEHILL38@HOTMAIL.COM) from manchester, england
28 October 2002

this is a wonderful and compelling movie starring one of cinemas greatest comic artists in a staight role as a frenchman who hides in a bunker with a group of fellow patriots in a bunker in occupied france during world war 2. quite why this film has never been widely shown compared to lesser peter sellers' efforts a'la 'the bobo' and 'the fiendish plot of fu manchu' is indeed a mystery. highly recommended.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Finally Saw It, and it's fantastic!!!

Author: carver76 from Omaha
12 February 2003

I consider myself as big a Peter Sellers fan as there is in the world, but this one film had eluded me for years until now...It is one of my favorite of Sellers' performances, and is a very powerful film overall. Highly recommended!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Over-rated, gloomy and depressing

Author: LCShackley from United States
15 August 2010

All the actors in this film do a fine job. But honestly, I can't see why other reviewers are going ape over Peter Sellers - are they just surprised that he could be serious? The man was a good actor, not just a clown. But in this film, we don't really know his character - he's just one of seven sorry souls trapped underground in a large storeroom after an Allied raid on the camp where they were held prisoner.

The film has an interesting premise, but trying to cram six years of action into 90 minutes is beyond the ability of the director and writers. It becomes very episodic, starting with a decent amount of set-up, followed by what more or less amounts to a series of death scenes. The story is certainly tragic, but it feels like Cliff's Notes on celluloid. I'm going to try to find the book.

This was probably Stanley Myers's easiest film to score, since it only called for an opening and closing bit with only a couple of instruments. The lack of music throughout underscores the claustrophobic atmosphere of the "dungeon." The sound and picture quality of the DVD available from Netflix (in 2010) leave much to be desired. If you enjoy dark, depressing, hopeless stories, this should be in your top ten.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One Great Movie!!! One of Peter Sellers best....

Author: wagbear4 from United States
7 August 2006

Took me 15 years to remember it, buy it, and view it once more. I'd love to see Directors-cut....and Hollywood should Definitely re-release this film as DVD. This IS a very haunting movie....dry dialogue, great performances by all...with words often unspoken. Dark, deep...but true story...Truly-deserves new or re-release. Sellers was brilliant in this movie.....great performance, as so many only regarded him for his comedic charm and abilities. I very HIGHLY recommend this film.

One must go back to War Films in general for a long long time just to discover such a unique film presentation. I consider this to be totally riveting...though my copy was "grainy" and soundtrack was not up to par by my standards. I have an original VHS copy only. BUT, this film shines like a diamond in the rough so to speak. The men portrayed must have had tons of fortitude...or a belief system that belies more than basic survival. Great Flick.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The truth is too unbelievable

Author: James Ebel from Florida
18 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie is true, but it is still unbelievable. Not that the portrayals are not to be believed, but just that what befalls the six men in the story is too horrible to imagine. Buried alive for six years, yet not knowing that six years is the duration of time that has passed or will pass before they are discovered. They must measure all by their own hearts, and face the fear. How each man reacts to their entombment, and holds on to sanity is masterfully told.

This is one of the best movies ever made, and should be shown every Memorial Day. The 88 minute masterpiece puts you there on D-Day, and leaves you there while men contemplate the nature and value of life. Those who survived to tell the tale must not be forgotten. As the credits roll, the viewer is reminded that it was a true story. The line between fictional cinema and reality melts away, and the viewer is left stunned by the realization that the story actually happened, and it was not some Stanley Kubrick fantasy.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Terminally depressing, terminally boring ................

Author: merklekranz from United States
9 November 2011

The DVD box for "The Blockhouse" says "A true story of perseverance and survival". The same could be said for the audience. The constant darkness, illuminated only by candles, cannot shed enough light on this story of seven men, trapped underground for six years. As entertainment the film is a failure for three reasons. 1. The claustrophobic darkness is depressing. 2. The lack of any background or character development means a "so what" as far as differentiating who we like or dislike. 3. The abominable audio quality of the DVD makes understanding what is being said impossible. What you are left with is a dark, depressing, boring, and unintelligible movie. Not recommended. - MERK

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