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According to star Gene Evans, Fuller wanted to shoot a long line of tired, retreating soldiers, but on that particular day when there were a lot of action pictures being shot, virtually all the extras were otherwise engaged, so 200 chorus boys, who had just finished working on the Fox lot and were available, were pressed into service. In order to get them to march more realistically, according to Evans, Fuller got the craftspeople to outfit them with 50 pound weights to make them look more like tired, retreating soldiers. See more »
Although most of the scenes in the platoon's cave dwelling are well lit, there are no fires, candles, or other light sources visible. See more »
You're not aiming at a man. You're aiming at the enemy. Once you're over that hump, you're a rifleman.
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A tight, straight-to-the-point war movie without fluff or melodrama
Fixed Bayonets completes director Samuel Fuller's one-two of 1951 movies about the Korean War, the other being the equally (maybe even slightly better) gritty and gripping The Steel Helmet. For those unfamiliar with Fuller's style, let's just say it is as far removed as possible from what Hollywood passes for war movies the past 20 years. No sentimentality and schmaltz here, just a straight-forward and fine-tuned soldier movie, from the boys, for the boys.
Fuller, a war veteran himself, takes a no-frills, realistic approach. With a tight script that weaves themes of courage and confronting one's fears into superb suspense and action scenes that have stood the test of time admirably, Fixed Bayonets does exactly what it says on the cover. The miniature work is decent enough and the studio backlot that passes for the Korean mountains completes the illusion without distractions. It's still a low-budget b-movie but it's holding well at the seams. The acting is all-around solid with Gene Evans once again stealing the show as the gruffy, no-nonsense Sgt. Rock.
Having worked as a journalist for New York newspapers in his younger years, Fuller understands the importance of story above all. Sure, he's not exactly the epitome of subtle - the inner monologues for example should have been avoided altogether. But I'm willing to ignore that because his movies have a sense of urgency and conviction that is hard to find: he's a man with a story to tell, he grabs you by the shoulder and says "this is how it happened, now watch this". And "this" is not about the politics or dramatization of war but war itself, men killing other men in some snowy hills in the middle of nowhere.
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