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Not a cheesy movie; it makes fun of cheesy movies
BARBARELLA is very campy satire which focuses mainly on making fun of the way fantasy sex (as well as science fiction, often) was (and often still is) depicted in the movies. BARBARELLA is not at all a cheesy movie; rather its mission is to make fun of cheesy movies, and does so extremely well. Everybody connected with it was very good at their craft, knew exactly what they were doing what they were doing and did it extremely well. Once you realize that, you see why is has become a "cult classic". The "cult" are the viewers who get the joke; unfortunately, and if the movie has any real weakness, it is that it can be easy for all that to go over your head. (In fact, the first time or two I saw this movie it went over mine, but it turned out for once that the third time was a charm in every sense of the word.) While I have seen some reviews that try to explain in various ways why it is more popular today than it was when it was first released, it may simply be that in a world of Saturday Night Live, South Park, and the Family Guy (to hit but the pinnacle of the iceberg), current audiences are likely more attuned to edgy satire than any other audiences in film history.
Having said that, Jane Fonda is brilliant in this movie. She totally gets it that her character is basically designed as an ideal fantasy girl for male audience members, and she plays it to the hilt with her then-characteristic naive innocence. The result is that at the same time this movie is basically one big continuous joke from the opening credits to the words "The End", she is every bit as sexy as if they had been playing it straight. In this regard, there is a tendency to hyperbole with the descriptions of this many reviewers typically offer; her on-camera nudity is confined to just a couple of sequences toward the beginning, and the sex scenes are so highly euphemised pictorially as to not even be considered sex scenes by younger and more immature audience members. Her sex appeal derives more from her consummate skill in ACTING sexy (including acting with body language -- no pun intended -- in terms of her posing, as well as appropriate costuming) as to any amount of bare skin left showing.
Moreover, the rest of departments rose equally to the occasion. The writing was pretty top notch both in dialog as well as overall story; the music was was likewise a campy parody of music in the 60s's you might find in real cheesy movies; and the sets and costumes were all kind of elegant versions of low-budget obvious sound-stage-set efforts. Watching BARBARELLA really makes you realize just how cleverly original people in the movie business can be.
I would rate this movie at 7.5 stars on the IMDb system if they would allow fractional stars. I definitely recommend it to anybody with a good sense of humor who has seen sex portrayed in the movies of the period, or even since.
Not "Best Picture" Material By A Long Shot . . .
Well, I thought the other negative reviews were right. If you've actually seen great movies, then you can see how this one doesn't even come close. That's even true with "off-beat" movies, like this one. Which is better - this or BEING THERE? THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS? THE ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND? DR. STRANGELOVE? 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY? A CLOCKWORK ORANGE? The list goes on . . .
Reviewers say this movie is "pretentious" because that is true. Ironically, this is true despite the theme that the action is about an actor/director's search for artistic truth. As you watch this movie, you get the feeling that the filmmaker is deliberately trying to impress you (or somebody) with cutesy gimmicks in various forms, rather than just make the best possible movie he can.
I agree with various user comments that a lot of the dialog is weak (if not also just plain unattractive) and the actors' performances become irrelevant when the subject matter doesn't reach the feelings of the viewer. At the one-hour mark, I found myself starting to look at my watch to see how much longer this would go on. The bottom line is, for all the cutesy gimmicks, this just doesn't work for way too many viewers. The fact that industry insiders claim to get a lot out of the story doesn't cure that.
That said, although I was tempted to do like so many other articulate reviewers have done and give it a solitary one star in an effort to drag down its seemingly incomprehensible 8.1 rating (at this juncture, at least) to something more reasonable, in the end I decided to be intellectually more rigorous and gave it a six, my usual rating for a movie which is technically good yet is not compelling entertainment at any level for even the most thoughtful of lay audiences.
12 O'Clock High (1964)
One of my favorite shows, but . . .
I was really surprised to find an 8.0 rating for this show when I looked it up on the IMDb. The truth is, it was a fairly heavy melodrama with largely contrived plots, pervasive overacting, and only selective loyalty to realism, something that always seems to characterize any fiction ever done about aviation on video.
And yet, of all the shows I watched as a little kid and then got to see again as an adult, this is the only one that has really been able to continue to feel special to me in spite of all its flaws. Despite everything else, and at least during the first season with Lansing, it took its subject matter seriously and did not engage in dramatic license to too much excess (unlike in its last season-and-a-half). The episodes usually maintained internally consistent logic and emotional effect and careful attention was paid to editing; one remarkable feature was how well the editors knew their World War Two aircraft and were consistently able to synch the storyline and dialog of the combat sequences with the real-life combat footage inserted as part of those sequences. The aircraft interior combat sequences were all shot inside of the fuselage of a real B-17 (a permanently grounded wingless wonder that was a refugee of earlier post-war civilian uses like water bombing forest fires), so what you see there is as authentic as possible. Moreover, the brooding quality suggested by the subject matter (which Lansing was very effective in enhancing), the black & white photography, and the perfectly-conceived and executed bittersweet Dominic Frontiere theme and score, combined with flying, aerial combat sequences which included a great deal of real-life combat footage, and best of all, copious quantities of photography (both new and vintage) of the B-17 Flying Fortress, styled by one famous aviation photographer as "the most photogenic airplane ever built", created a unique kind of mood that has never ceased appealing to me since I was seven years old. As a result, after I grew up, I learned to fly and then through a stroke of exceedingly good luck just happened to find myself living in a city where one of the few remaining (there are only about a dozen) B-17's still flying was based, and there I joined the crew.
However, in spite of what others have written, Robert Lansing was not perfect, even though he was certainly at least persistently interesting, and some attempt at verisimilitude was generally present in spite of the demands of dramatic license. And things only got even more contrived whenever an episode veered near Paul Burke playing the Joe Gallagher character. Thus, naturally, when Burke replaced Lansing in the second season it continued down the same track as the first except that its execution at practically every level was not up to the same standard. The contrived plots seemed even more contrived - not only was the acting of the new principal characters frequently weaker, but the writing itself was as well - and finally they went to color (it was by then 1966, after all), which fundamentally altered the mood, and yet something else was lost. In the third season, even the original striking score was largely abandoned for something a lot less brooding but also a lot less notable. Over that time the series went from a focus on high drama to much more of an action-adventure format, and started looking a lot more like THE RAT PATROL. As a result, both drama and even story details suffered in favor of variety and action, regardless of how realistic it made the end result. Even the editing became much more indifferent.
Still, some new elements of interest appeared. Paul Burke's character, as the replacement for Lansing's, had some good, pretty credible dialog written to demonstrate his (as well as other senior officers') leadership ability, and he was pretty much up to the task of delivering it. In fact, there was a lot more believably representative dialog generally than in the first season, occasioned also by the fact that the newly formatted show at long last included some significant enlisted characters as well as more interaction among junior officers, and for the first time an actual sense of camaraderie developed at times between various characters; originally, every episode was limited to a confrontation between Lansing's character and whoever his antagonist of the week was. Moreover, a second extremely cool aircraft was added in the form of the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter, with excellent footage included, even if the plot elements to accomplish this were as often as not fairly strained, factually. But while these new aspects of the show gave the producers exciting new story opportunities it never realized its potential. Had the series capitalized better on this and stuck with the tighter writing and editing of the first season, perhaps it could have weathered the various changes, but it was not to be. Even after about Episode 8 of the third season, when the show actually did start to click pretty well as an action series, it was not enough to save it from cancellation. But still, 12 O'Clock High remains for me the thing that began my life-long love for the magnificent B-17 Flying Fortress, and eventually, for their real exploits and men that flew them.
Daniel Boone (1964)
Davy Crockett, Part II
DANIEL BOONE was star Fess Parker's production company's project to recapture the success and popularity of the DAVY CROCKETT episodes he did for the Disney anthology series of the 1950's. However, with the Davy Crockett franchise owned by Disney, and with Disney unwilling to sell their rights, they had to come up with something else along the same lines, and so DANIEL BOONE was born. Basically they recast the earlier character and much of the light-hearted, folk-tale-inspired stories and feel of the earlier vehicle, and even appropriated the coon-skin cap he had made so popular in the DAVY CROCKETT efforts (I suppose Disney didn't have a monopoly on that mode of headgear), all updated to mid-1960's story concepts and themes. Once you realize this (and assuming you've seen DAVY CROCKETT, OLD YELLER, or any of the standard Disney weekly television fare of the era) you'll understand where this series was coming from. In terms of story themes, it was mid-60's morality play TV, where good always ultimately triumphed over evil, the ending was generally a happy one, and traditional American idealistic values as well as some newer ones, like opposing racism, were upheld. Thus, it was no different than anything else of that era -- BONANZA, THE RIFLEMAN, THE BIG VALLEY, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, you name it, and it was just as popular, with a rendition of the theme song expanded and sung by Fess Parker himself being played on Top 40 radio.
What was uniquely fun about this show, though, was the 1950's Disneyesque TV humor, some of which revolved not the least around Fess Parker's sidekicks, in particular, the inimitable Mingo, played by baritone singer Ed Ames. Styled as a Cherokee (and therefore, "friendly") Indian, Mingo was actually half-English and educated at no less an institution than Oxford, after which he returned to resume his Cherokee lifestyle while communicating with whites in the King's English. This became a running joke in the show, for when the pair met up with any of the vast population of guest stars portraying various strangers from week to week, Daniel or the other white frontiersman would say something like, "downright happy t' know ya", while Mingo, looking from head to toe like any Indian from James Fenimore Cooper, would in crisp, perfect English and a deep sonorous voice, intone something like, "the pleasure and honor are all mine, sir," often to the stunned amazement of the stranger. Moreover, he was not only an expert Cherokee tracker with a store of knowledge of other tribes, but a true classically-educated intellectual aware even of much of the latest scientific knowledge. Don't be surprised to see Mingo respond to some down-home philosophical question with a Latin metaphor, in Latin. If you didn't know any better, you'd think he was the prototype for Mr. Spock on STAR TREK beginning a year or two later.
Fess Parker himself was perfect in this, doing a classic portrayal of an easygoing, exceptionally cool-headed, and slow-to-anger backwoodsman who also has no problem decking somebody with a crashing right or mowing them down with "Ticklicker", his Kentucky long rifle, once events escalated to that level. Thus, he is most often able to defuse a situation and prevail by disarming his opponent in a competition of wits, avoiding bloodshed with down-home wisdom, wilyness, and manly eyeball-to-eyeball negotiating, true to the DAVY CROCKETT tradition. (For the uninitiated, Crockett was also played by John Wayne in THE ALAMO where Crockett's death at that battle in real life is portrayed.) Here Parker becomes a living embodiment of Theodore Roosevelt's admonition, "speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far." In this sense, he might remind the 60's TV aficionado of Andy Griffith in his show of the same name, although the latter character and the show were typically better written. In this regard, the reviewer who attacks Parker's masculinity so prominently in this string is difficult to comprehend in her remarks.
Probably the worst thing about this show were some fairly contrived, not entirely plausible plot devices and even whole story lines at times, as well as a pace that was sometimes a little slow even by the standards of the day. Also trying to the modern viewer are the 1960's production values, which while perfectly standard then still didn't convey the outdoor sequences that made up most of the scenes in this show as well as one would prefer today, being that they were mostly shot indoors on a sound stage.
That said, I have a season of this on DVD and it really takes me back to my childhood to watch it. In fact, I still remember the Saturday night I was in church (the show was still current right about the time the Catholic Church decided you could go to mass on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, your option) where the priest caught somebody looking at his watch and announced, "don't worry, everybody, I want to get home in time to watch DANIEL BOONE, too". Today I enjoy it very much as a classic example of mid-60's American action-drama TV.
Au Pair Girls (1972)
Much better than I expected
I decided to check this movie out on Netflix in spite of the uninspiring description given for it, which made it sound like a typical grade B- exploitation flick, just because I wanted to see Gabrielle Drake in something other than reruns of the 1960's TV series *UFO*. But granting that I'm an American too young to have seen much of this genre of films from this era, I found this movie much more enjoyable than I expected. It was thoroughly professionally produced, with consistent and thoroughly professional acting, editing, photography and comedic effects and timing from one end to the other. The plot -- actually, plots (here are four of them) work perfectly well for what they are, are not especially predictable, and are light on the clichés, and there is some pretty witty dialog, too. Several times I caught myself laughing out loud. Moreover, the, er, mature parts actually fit the true definition of that word for a change, as it seemed to me that the filmmakers were not the least bit shy about how they handled them, being quite unembarrassedly frank to the point of in-your-face (not to mention actually more believable in certain small details than typical American-made Cinemax 2:00 AM fare) in the way they were handled. It may not be high art, but like, say, *Gilligan's Island*, I thought it was quite good for what it was. I'm not surprised to learn that the director actually seems to have a reputation for doing good stuff in other genres.
Hellcats of the Navy (1957)
If you want to know what the expression, "B-movie" is all about . . .
I first saw this movie in the early 1980's when WTBS of Atlanta (Ted Turner's "Superstation", which put itself on the cable TV map as the leading broadcaster of "vintage" movies at that time) started running it during Ronald Reagan's first presidential administration. At that time I found it noticeably unsettling to see the sitting President of the United States and the First Lady appearing in this manner (and maybe all the more so considering how I had voted for him, enthusiastically). Recently I got on a War in the Pacific kick and among other things decided to look at it again for the first time in years. A few points come to mind:
1. To begin with, the personal conflict which is proffered to serve as the backbone of this story is as badly contrived as any in the history of the movies. The executive officer's tirade and the position he took that prompted it was not only unwarranted, it was ridiculous. The behavior he displayed was not only immature, it just plain incompetent for someone in his position. Indeed, Reagan himself seemed to delay way too long himself in pulling the plug when he got the report of the rapidly closing radar contact -- just ask any submariner of the world war II era about these things (assuming you can find one, at this point). About the only kind thing I can say about this premise is that maybe with some detailed massaging of the script around this point there might have been some way to make it more plausible, but there is precious little that is subtly technical in this movie anyway, and indeed, some of the simpler technical aspects they did attempt to address were handled in too weak a way to be clear to a typical audience member who doesn't know anything about the US submarine campaign in World War II.
2. Having said that, this movie was not as bad as I remembered from my original viewing, or anticipated on commencing my recent one. There is actually some historical basis for the rest of the plot, and in terms of technical detail there is quite a bit that is pretty accurate, for a movie, even if it is by no means a perfect depiction of combat on a submarine of the era, and it indulges in all sorts of classic submarine movie clichés and characteristically highly improbable plot developments. The reference to "Hellcats" in the title was to one particular trio of wolfpacks of American submarines (which usually operated alone rather than in packs) which was nicknamed the Hellcats and organized for the purpose of a simultaneous mass raid on targets within the Sea of Japan in the last few months of the war, just as eventually indicated in the latter part of the movie.
3. Although Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz was as important as anybody else in winning World Wart II, and held as much rank as Eisenhower or MacArthur, he never got the same kind of public attention they did (MacArthur being an egotist who actively courted media attention and Ike just being Ike), and as this movie shows he was not at all telegenic. Having so little star power, and regardless of his historical importance, comparing him to the two generals in connection with his appearance in a film is probably not entirely appropriate. A better question might be why he agreed to appear in it at all; I guess they simply asked him him to, and he couldn't tell the difference between Ronald Reagan and Clark Gable or John Wayne, or between an A-list movie and second-rate matinée-fodder, or maybe he didn't even care. I doubt seriously that in his rise to Pacific Ocean Areas Commander-in-Chief and Five Stars (the highest ranking admiral in an operational command in the history of the Navy) he probably had not paid more than cursory attention to the movie industry, lacking either the time, the interest, or both.
On the other hand, I figure that he was willing to lend his appearance to this thing as a way to plug the wartime Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, which didn't earn the nickname "Silent Service" because they were getting the attention and public adulation they deserved. In point of fact, almost one-third of the Japanese warships sunk in World War II were sunk by the US Pacific Fleet submarine force -- even though it amounted to less than 2% of the Navy's total personnel. As if that were not enough, they then went on to sink over 50% of Japan's merchant marine, i.e., commercial shipping, essentially strangling Dai Nippon, the Japanese Empire. As the Navy's designated submarine force historian noted in his official history of the American Pacific submarine offensive, the Atomic Bomb was just the funeral pyre for an enemy which had been drowned at sea. I can't imagine Nimitz, who was also a former submariner himself, not wanting to see that the force finally got the recognition it deserved among all of the up-till-then better-sung heroes of the war in the air and on land and even on the surface of the sea.
Interesting . . .
This documentary showcases the Hitlerian strategy for conquering hearts and minds by exploiting people's capacity to hate, something as relevant in our time as it seems to have been in his. This is a lesson which is especially worth remembering at this point in history.
I might also add that the IMDb has goofed here, and that the narrator is not Richard Basehart, but in fact whoever it is is never identified in the titles. Also, while the music is darkly effective, it turns out that for some odd reason Lalo Schifrin reprises a prominent piece of his MISSION IMPOSSIBLE score (a march) even though that show was still running in prime time when this came out in 1968.
This also leads me to another point -- one of the other reviewers here made the bizarre comment that the Cold War was over in connection with this documentary; to the contrary, in 1968 it was still going strong, heated as it was by the escalating war in Vietnam. That reviewer also gets his dates wrong with regard to the United States; it entered the war against Hitler in December, 1941, not 1944. Before Christmas, 1942, the US not only had a significant presence at sea fighting German U-boats (it had actually begun that months before hostilities between the two were formally declared in 1941), but it had been an equal partner (at least) of the British in carrying out the invasion of North Africa. By the end of 1943 it had been the leading actor in conquering Sicily and invading Italy, and had began striking Germany in the European war's only daylight strategic bombing campaign.
God, this thing is pure cheese with extra cheese sauce. 7.9 IMDb rating? Fuggettaboutit. The dramatic side of it is about as appealing as the 1970's version of **Battlestar Galactica** -- maybe even less, in that it is even more juvenile. The characters are mostly clichéd -- post modern clichés, maybe, but clichéd -- and usually uninteresting (although it was nice to see a familiar if substantially aged face in Ron Glass again). The acting is generally soap-opera quality at best (except Ron Glass's, and to some extent, the villain's). The villain is probably the high point -- despite the predictability of the writing of his part, he is at least a bit interesting. The **Blade Runner** look is overemphasized. The actions sequences are OK but alone do not make a movie (if you are a grown-up, at least). On average, a James Bond movie is better made -- any James Bond movie.
One interesting point, I couldn't help noticing every time he was on the screen that the actor who plays "Wash" bears a striking physical resemblance on film to a famous former United States naval officer named Richard H. O'Kane. O'Kane's claim to fame was that he was awarded the Medal of Honor for sinking approximately 30 Japanese ships as a submarine commander in World War Two. This was a real war which actually took place and finally ended in August, 1945. In addition to the Medal of Honor, O'Kane earned three Navy Crosses, three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit with "V" device for valor, the Purple Heart and a number of other decorations for his total of ten actual war patrols. The awards were real, and O'Kane was a real person who sank the targets, which were real and not imaginary ships, from an actual historical vessel, the USS TANG (SS-306). The Medal of Honor was actually hung around his neck in an award ceremony at the actual White House in real-life Washington, D.C., by a President of the United States who actually existed named Harry Truman. Moreover, the TANG itself was actually sunk when the last torpedo it fired on its final war patrol proved defective and made a circular run, returning to strike the submarine in one of its engine rooms and killing all but nine men aboard, including O'Kane. They were fished out of the water by the Japanese, beaten, and thrown into a POW camp until the war was over about 10 months later. These were actual Japanese enemy fighting men who really existed, not movie characters. It was a real, not a fantasy, POW camp, and so were the beatings its guards dispensed. I wish somebody would have the good sense to make a contemporary movie about that.
On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald (1986)
Real courtroom lawyers looking to see a couple of the heads of their profession exhibiting superior advocacy skills will be mostly disappointed with this. While featuring not only probably the most famous prosecutor of all time, Vincent Bugliosi (and never forget that the "g" is silent!), but one of the greatest defense lawyers of all time, the once-illustrious Gerry Spence, their appearances here come across like they have been both rushed and dumbed down for television (and drastically shortened, as well), and worse still, that they did a bare minimum of preparation, compared with a real trial, there being no real client's actual fate at stake in the outcome. It reminds you of pre-season NFL football games,where the top talent is usually not working very hard since the games don't count. Possibly the most realistic aspect of their presentations is the intense, even petty competitiveness often evident between the two, neither of them wanting to be upstaged by the other.
That said, and bearing in mind that these guys cheat so much on the rules that there is a great deal of technically improper technique, including massive infusions of normally inadmissible hearsay and opinion testimony, they do throw in a few bits of their own tried and true schtick which a lawyer can profit from, and the newbie advocate could pick up a few bits of basic examination technique here and there. A much better (though again significantly abbreviated) appearance is made by the judge here, who is is 100% authentic and great fun to watch, doling out at intervals classic examples of judicial wit and refusing to cut Spence and his famous, over-sized head any slack that he can possibly avoid. And even though the IMDb says this was made by Pinewood Studios of England, the courtroom setting appears perfectly authentic for a contemporary Texas courtroom, and the proceedings even include the judge admonishing counsel and a witness at one point not to talk over one another because of the problems that causes the court reporter, who is a gal sitting right there front and center tapping away, just as in a real trial. And finally, while the case is styled UNITED STATES v. LEE HARVEY OSWALD, to a considerable extent has the more informal look and feel reminiscent of Texas state court, rather than federal, proceedings.
More important than the frequently disappointing advocacy demonstration, however, is what this mock trial shows about the JFK assassination. For the first time (and in an adversarial setting, always the best for drawing out facts) the general public gets a glimpse of some of the eyewitnesses that you never get to see, or even to hear about, in the more usual documentary of the assassination, the kind of witnesses that would actually testify had this been a real trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. This infusion of basic reality into a genre of documentary that is normally consumed by conspiracy theories and edited set-piece interviews of larger-than-life grandstanders is not only welcome but is really the one thing that can make this worth watching (even though unfortunately it was apparently substantially abbreviated in order to better suit the needs of recorded television). The expert witnesses likewise were informative even as their presentations, too, were apparently heavily edited or otherwise truncated in some places.
I thus found it frustrating that I could not have a chance to examine some of these people myself, to ask some of the obvious questions that never made it to the screen for some reason or other. For example, one significant bit left out was how firing from the sixth floor window at a moving automobile could be much the same as firing at a stationary target, as the prosecution gun expert mentioned briefly on cross-examination but without greater elaboration on redirect examination, since no redirect examination occurred on film at all. Having visited the crime scene myself, I had come to the same conclusion before ever seeing this, yet the typical viewer would not have that advantage. Another critical area of evidence in understanding the significance of the "pristine" or "magic" bullet that was not dealt with in either this or any other such documentary I've ever seen was the nature of Governor Connolly's thigh wound, and how consistent that was with the finding of the bullet on a stretcher. While much was made about the circumstances of the Kennedy autopsy in terms of its effect on the conclusions made by various investigations, one wonders what could be made of Connolly's treatment for his injuries.
Even apart from what they could say about the facts of the assassination, the witnesses in this case are instructive to lay people curious about trial work as displaying a great deal of very typical witness behavior. In this regard, it is also great fun to watch humble witnesses sticking up for themselves against the overly bloated ego of Gerry Spence, in yet another example of courtroom realism. On the other hand, one aspect of the witness testimony that is underplayed in this piece is the indication that many of them seem to have had a secondary career (at least) as JFK assassination witnesses, something that should have been explored in much greater detail in reference to the credibility of their testimony.
In conclusion, even with all of its flaws this is something that is worth plowing through for people interested in the subject matter or trial advocacy for what it shows in terms of the matters discussed here. In particular, it examines what must be the focus of any inquiry seriously aimed at understanding the John F. Kennedy assassination, the particular details of Lee Harvey Oswald's involvement itself, something that is all-to-frequently overly marginalized in other treatments of the subject. It especially shows why the Warren Commission's conclusion could come out the way it did even without the resort to a raft of enigmatic suggestions of conspiracies or cover-ups of elephantine and essentially fictive proportions.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Very good, however implausible
This is another one of those excellently-crafted movies you see sometimes which successfully romanticizes something that in reality would have been a very repellent business, and moreover does so in spite of a seriously implausible plot premise. As anybody with any experience with real screw-ups of the the variety featured in this movie knows, the chances of getting consistently constructive work, much less making useful members of team of much of the human material available here, and even under the least stressful of conditions, is right at about zero, and as true war history buffs know, the kinds of real-life efforts that inspired the raid that forms the basis of this offering have been manned and carried out without the need to descend the extreme depicted here.
That said, however, the American imagination, which has proved it can swallow anything from children's dolls possessed by evil spirits to Santa Claus alive and well and living in a Long Island retirement home (and even to any number of overwrought, incompetent buffoons seeking high office), can easily digest this one, and once it does you have a meticulously written narrative with excellent dialog expertly performed by an appealing cast led perfectly by Lee Marvin, who was just perfect in his role. I thought that apart from the plot premise the writing was so superb that it was a shame that the original premise was not altered somewhat to make it as believable as much of the rest of story and dialog are. Had it been, rather than one of the best Saturday afternoon military video fantasies ever, it could have had the potential to rank up there near Bridge on The River Kwai or Lawrence of Arabia as a true artistic achievement. Instead the whole thing comes off as something of a two-hour-long gag, one long, running smirk at authority more in the manner of a light parody rather than the depiction of reality, even with questioning of authority, that it could have been. In this sense I do not think it is fair at all to compare it to the much more reality-anchored Great Escape, for example.
All that said, this movie is at least one of the best rainy Saturday afternoon military video fantasies ever, and is still in the top 10% in that genre to this day, more than 40 years after it was made.