Stanley Kramer's WW-II character study has Lee Marvin as the Sergeant of a small squad laid over during fighting in Italy. During the otherwise boring time between battles, tensions arise as they are ordered not to rescue a squad mate pinned down by the enemy, for fear of risking more lives. Based on the stage play "A Sound of Hunting", by Harry Brown.Written by
The rifle used by the snipers was a G43 (1943) and the machine gun with the saddle drum was a MG34. See more »
When Pvt. Collucci throws a grenade at the German machine gun, it is easy to see where the grenade lands as a small puff of dust is visible. However, the explosion occurs well to the left and behind where the grenade actually landed. See more »
A mix of "Stalag 17" and television's "Combat" series (which it inspired), "Eight Iron Men" (1952) is my favorite war movie. Made when Director Edward Dmytryk was still paying attention to his acting for the camera direction, "Eight Iron Men" is Harry Brown's adaptation of his play "A Sound of Hunting". Brown would later write one of the more classic episodes of "Combat".
Dmytryk, noted for his action sequences, was smart enough to concentrate on the play's extremely clever repartee between the members of an infantry squad who are marking time in the ruins of a destroyed town in Europe late in WWII. Squad leader Sgt. Mooney (Lee Marvin) has somehow managed to keep his group intact up to this point of the war. His goal of leaving the town with all seven of his men is threatened when the squad's most inept member Private Small (George Cooper) gets himself pinned down in a shell-hole; a few yards away from a well-protected German machine gun nest.
With orders to pull back the squad is torn between disobeying or abandoning their buddy to the Germans. Their decision is further complicated by not knowing if Small is still alive. Once this situation has been fleshed out, Dmytryk builds up the tension as it becomes closer and closer to the time they must leave.
By the end of the film you feel like you know all the six of Mooney's multi-ethnic squad members. There is a comedian (Nick Dennis), a hot-head (Richard Kiley), a pragmatist (Arthur Franz), a cub scout (Dickie Moore), a war-weary dreamer (James Griffith), and a dame obsessed gold brick (Bonar Colleano).
Much like "Das Boot" and "Cross of Iron", the members of the squad have shared so many intense experiences that they have become closer to each other than they ever were to their own family members. This makes their choice even more difficult.
Like the best anti-war films, "Eight Iron Men" is full of hard-bitten cynicism as a group of humans try to maintain their dignity in an insane environment. The face of war is gritty-not glamorous in "Eight Iron Men" and the film is not for those looking for fast edits and flashy action sequences.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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