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War film logic dictates that both Americans, Germans and the occupied French will all understand each other while speaking fluent Americanese. With this kind of co-operation, why was there ever a war in the first place? Possibly to inspire no-budget tank operas like Battle Of The Last Panzer. It's the tale of a doomed Panzer squad led by the clearly-insane Lieutenant Hunter (played by Italian actor Stan Cooper, real name Stelvio Rosi). His men know the war is over and are on the brink of mutiny, but Hunter, who spends most of the film with his shirt off and practicing his strange full-facial style of overacting, is determined to see his mission through to the last man standing. They bulldoze their way into a tiny French village and capture the sycophantic mayor and his less-than-impressed wife Jeanette, who despises weakness and sees something sexy in Hunter's bullish macho destructive determination.
Played by German actress Erna Schürer who spent most of the Seventies in more sleazy Italian fare such as Strip Nude For Your Killer and Deported Women of the SS Special Section, Jeanette willingly volunteers to become their tour guide, supposedly to save her husband, but after a while trapped in a tank full of sweating, leering Germans her motives are quite clear, showing off her flesh and playing the affections of one soldier against the other. At one point, Hunter peers up her skirt and says "Pull up into the underbrush and park!" Jawohl, mein herr.
Unlike spaghetti westerns, the Italian war cycle was far shorter, much less prolific, and produced no stand-alone genre classics, least of all this one. But Battle Of The Last Panzer from 1969 has the look and feel and musical score of a spaghetti western from the same era - transpose Confederates versus Yankees on top of the WW2 players, substitute a war wagon for the Panzer tank, and gatlings for submachine guns, and you have a Sergio Leone movie. A rough as guts Leone at a third of the running time, one-fiftieth of the cost and with a script rewritten buy a team of monkeys on typewriters, but a Leone film nonetheless. And with a cool red-tinted spaghetti western style shootout at the end, it's worth sitting through this interesting yet deeply flawed Italian-Spanish poverty-row production. So gather the troops and fire up the Tiger for another excursion into enemy territory courtesy of the losing side: the Italian war epic Battle Of The Last Panzer.
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