Attack (1956) Poster

(1956)

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10/10
A four star war film
bkoganbing28 May 2005
Based on a play Fragile Fox that was on Broadway during the early Fifties, Attack is one of the best war films ever made. No sham heroics here, just men doing a dirty job and caught in an extremely lousy situation due to politics.

Lee Marvin is a politically ambitious colonel who's national guard company has been activated for World War II. He's got to babysit and keep an eye on Eddie Albert who's father is a big shot in the unnamed southern state he comes from. Only Albert is an incompetent and a coward. That's causing problems up and down the ranks.

How it all gets resolved is what you have to see Attack for and Robert Aldrich never directed a better film. There's not a bad performance here, not a minute of film wasted.

The contrasting character is Jack Palance who is the lead character. His courage and concern for the men he leads are set up in a direct counterpoint to Albert. His climactic scene is one of the most harrowing ever put on film.

It is appropriate with news of Eddie Albert leaving us at the grand old age of 99 to pay tribute to what is probably the best performance this multi-talented and under-appreciated performer ever did. His Captain Cooney is one of the most malevolent creatures ever put to celluloid. He's such a bad man, his performance will make your skin crawl, Albert is that good in this role. Both he and Palance should have been up for Oscars in 1956.

William Smithers made a good film debut in Attack. He never reached the heights of stardom, but Star Trek fans will know him for a role in the original series as Captain Merik who oddly enough made the same bad choices in that episode that Captain Cooney does in Attack.

The cast is populated with war film veterans and they all do their usual fine job. There were times that it didn't seem possible you could make a war film without Lee Marvin, Robert Strauss, or Richard Jaeckel. God Bless 'em all.

And Attack is a film not to be missed even if you don't particularly like war films.
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Fantastic War Movie - No Holds Barred
SgtSlaughter17 October 2003
One of Robert Aldrich's classic war movies explores pyschological pressure and just how war effects men mentally. Even the "good guys" have their bad sides, and the bad guys are so screwed up you either sympathize with them or hate them.

During the fall of 1944, Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert) commands a weary infantry company. Lt. Costa (a young Jack Palance) realizes that Cooney is unfit for command when he freezes in combat. Costa and close friend Lt. Woodruff (Bill Smithers) try to inform their superior, Colonel Bartlett (Lee Marvin sporting a southern drawl) of Cooney's incompetence; instead, White wants to stay out of the way and hopes for the best. He owes Cooney a chance to become a hero so he can look good back home. Well, as you might have expected, Cooney again freezes in combat, this time costing the lives of several of Costa's men - and Costa goes looking for vengeance in an awesome climactic sequence.

The supporting cast is dotted with familiar faces, including Robert Strass from STALAG 17 as an oafish, emotional dogface; the late Buddy Ebsen (BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL) as Costa's loyal platoon sergeant; and Richard Jaeckel (who's appeared in at least a dozen war flicks) as another young soldier. Kudos to Bill Smithers, who does a fantastic job in an early role as Costa's rational friend. His final scene will leave you stunned and reeling.

The movie features a number of memorable scenes which combine physical action, superb dialog and emotion perfectly. One scene in which a mortally wounded Jack Palance prays that God will let him live long enough to kill Cooney is gut-wrenching. Interestingly, both Cooney and Costa have lost their grip on sanity. It's clear from the beginning that Cooney is a whackjob, and Costa is perfectly sane. But he becomes madly (no pun intended) obsessed with killing Cooney, that he forgets everything else - including his own men which is fighting to save. Instead of focusing on thousands of troops and big explosions, Aldrich delivers enough punch in his small-scale story to knock you down. Interiors and exteriors are beautifully shot, confining the action within small spaces to deliver maximum intensity and efficiency.

ATTACK! is an honest film - yes, this type of thing did happen; read or see BAND OF BROTHERS (particularly episode #7) to witness a brutally accurate account of flawed leadership resulting in disaster. I give an 11/10.
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8/10
A violent exposé of a lack of courage and perversion…
Nazi_Fighter_David25 January 2009
'Attack' was a violent exposé of a lack of courage and perversion among American officers fighting the Germans in Belgium; a completely anti-romantic expression of disgust with war, and, more specially, the war machine, with its breakdown and its own ridiculous brand of bureaucracy…

Jack Palance and Eddie Albert played, at different types of psychic disturbance, two officers who struggle on the battlefield — the one an efficacious, trustworthy, but disillusioned hero-typed, the other a cowardly sadist…

Lee Marvin was the cynical high-ranking officer who treats war as a political farce, mindless of the pain and distress of the ordinary soldiers…

Despite an inevitable over-fondness for the dramatic values of combat and the ferocious of men at arms, this was a convincing, truthful try to demythologize war — which, had it been set up in a lower key with fewer psychiatric reverberations, would have come nearer to being what Aldrich was struggling to achieve, 'a sincere plea for peace'.
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10/10
One of the two or 3 best war movies ever made.
inframan16 June 2004
This gripping film has the benefits of an outstanding cast: Palance was peerless here, combining a sense of command with a deep sense of compassion & especially what it takes to get the job done under fire. Palance could do it because he had been there (& seriously wounded) in WW2. Lee Marvin was a combat marine who got shot in that war, too. These guys had real frames of reference to deal from. All the supporting cast stands out as well, Buddy Ebsen as the savvy platoon sergeant, William Smithers as the by the book lieutenant, Robert Straus & Richard Jaeckel as the grunts they played so well in these films. AND THEN there's Eddie Albert playing the cowardly Captain whose father is a high-level political wheeler-dealer. Some of his swaggering & smirking & foolhardy statements, even the features & facial expressions, seem oddly, weirdly timely, though this film is just short of 50 years old. I won't name names for fear of being drawn into a political campaign year vortex, but this movie sure is worth watching against today's operations in Iraq _ & Washington. I wonder what kinds of movies will be coming out in 1- - 20 years about the Iraq wars.

One more word. It could not have happened with Robert Aldrich at the helm. A real masterpiece!
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10/10
Tough, hard-hitting WWII battle film
bjzajac3 March 2001
This is one of the toughest and most realistic films about WWII combat in Europe made in the 1950s. The bayonet sharpness of this movie stems from that many of the actors in the film are or were themselves WWII veterans. Lee Marvin was a US Marine on Saipan and was wounded in combat, and Eddie Albert was in the Navy and was at the unimaginably bloody battle of Tarawa (Betio). These men knew what war was about and what it cost to wage it. See this film. You will witness a classic drama about bravery in war and the ugliness and finality of combat.
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9/10
The Performances
mcrocker-24 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The plot and summary have already been discussed here. I would like to add my spin on the actors. Jack Palance always seems so suited for sinister type roles, but here he gets a chance to play a character you can sympathize with, even though there is a still a dark edge to his character. He is very good in this film, and (here is my spoiler), no one in the history of film making has ever played a corpse better than Palance, in this film.

Eddie Albert is so effective as the cowardly weasel, Capt. Cooney, that it took years for me to enjoy any other roles that he had later on. He made that much of an impression. It took a couple of years of "Green Acres", to wipe the association of Albert's Capt. Cooney from my mind, whenever viewing him.

Lee Marvin, delivers just what you would expect from his role. Nasty fellow, that Colonel. Totally self-serving.

The rest of the squad form up a great little ensemble. I don't think that people realize just how talented Buddy Ebsen really was. While everyone else gives an edgy performance here, he balances the whole thing with a subtle, low keyed approach. Robert Strauss (probably best known as Animal in "Stalag 17") has little room to yuk it up in this film, although he does have a couple of "zingers". He is still one of those people that any time you see them, you can't help but smile. And what can I say about Richard Jaeckel? Was there A WWII film made from the mid 40s through the 60s, that Jaeckel WAS NOT in? A fixture in the genre. I wonder what the play, that this film is based upon, was like.
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An actors WW2-movie that explodes in human drama!
Renaldo Matlin22 December 2003
For anyone interested in the subject of World War II - as tackled by Hollywood - "Attack" is a classic first-rate contribution to the genre. With a stellar cast including, oh, listen to this:

1. The captivating Jack Palance in one of his finest roles.

2. Eddie Albert, one of the most likable actors, normally known for playing lovable good-guys her he delivers a character you will just love to hate.

3. Lee Marvin, no comment necessary, one of the very few screen actor from the raw school of coolness (where his only competition was that of Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Charles Bronson).

4. Robert Strauss, who like in the classic "Stalag 17" again gives us some welcomed comic relief well mixed with drama and first rate acting.

5. Buddy Ebsen, excellent and always above-par, whether it was as 'Doc' in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" or TV's 'Barnaby Jones' and 'Jed Clampett' of "The Beverly Hillbillies".

6. Richard Jaeckel, who's fine career spanned from this through hits like "The Dirty Dozen" and all the way to uhm... "Baywatch"!

7. William Smithers who despite this star-making film debut (as the REAL main character of the movie) oddly enough never seemed to top this role (somehow he is credited last here on the IMDb, probably because his name is the last to show up during the opening titles with an "And introducing" attached to it).

The whole sha-bang is directed by the great Robert Aldrich who really deserves credit for this one, as I am sure this story of a US Army officer struck by cowardice during WW2 was hard to stomach for some people just 11 years after the big one ended. Aldrich would go on the direct one of the grand-daddy's of guys-on-a-mission-movies, the before mentioned "The Dirty Dozen" (1967). Not surprisingly Aldrich would work with many of the above listed actors on several occasions, which is another testament to the sturdy cast of "Attack".

All these forces combined - in front off and behind the camera - results in a memorable ride through the darkest corners of the human soul, mixed with some thrilling battle scenes. As this is originally based on a play it might seem a bit talky to some, but wait for the first hour to pass and then it will suddenly explode in drama and first-rate acting. The many confrontations these characters have are all so intense they actually make you forget all the solid action scenes!

Definitely one of the most important Hollywood-contributions exploring the drama of war, worth adding to your WW2-collection!
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7/10
Stunning warfare film filled with intense drama , spectacular battles and violent confrontation
ma-cortes11 April 2013
Above average war film with Jack Palance's snarling ferocity as a revengeful officer along with Eddie Albert as a coward captain ,both of whom give excellent performances along with the remaining cast . 1944 , Belgium , Battle of Bugle , during the closing days of WWII, a National Guard Infantry Company is assigned the task of setting up artillery observation posts in a strategic area . Lieutenant Costa (splendid Jack Palance as platoon leader) knows that Cooney (Eddie Albert ,in real life he served in WW II, was a war hero, in one engagement having braved heavy enemy fire to rescue 70 wounded Marines) is in command only because of his friendship to a colonel (Lee Marvin) and other connections he had made with High-command . As captain Cooney is ordered to move one of his platoons into a forward position . They , then are slowly surrounded by a Nazi army . As Costa has serious doubts concerning Cooneys' ability to lead the group . Lt. Costa calls headquarters for reinforcements but Cooney won't commit his reserves even as the platoon is decimated , then Costa swears vendetta .

This is a bitter war drama that packs thrills , chills , intense battle of wits among two officials and many other things . This has an anti-war argument , though not the usual 'war is hell,' but the terribly corrupting influence that war can have on the most normal, average human beings , and the terrible things it makes them capable of that they wouldn't be capable of otherwise . Interesting picture with excellent screenplay by James Poe based on a play titled "Fragile Fox" by Norman Brooks , dealing with an expert portrayal of men in war under pressure . It is a war movie as frankly good that when it was shown as the Venice Festival a U.S. ambassador walked in protest for its un-Americanism and anti-patriotism , in fact , US Department of Defense and the US Army refused to assist with the production of this movie based on its film script . After reading the script, the military flatly refused to allow any co-operation with the production , that meant no tanks, no uniforms, no troops ; they didn't even allow director to view any Signal Corps footage . However Aldrich managed to rent two tanks ; by careful staging and ingenuity, he was able to convey the impression that many more were being used . Very good acting from Jack Palance who dominates the picture with a tremendously acting , though sometimes overacting , and Eddie Albert as cowardly captain Cooney who refuses to re-enforce him . Two of the lead cast in this Robert Aldrich war film of the Second World War, Richard Jaeckel and Lee Marvin, would go onto appear in the same director's later hugely successful World War II war movie, ¨Dirty Dozen¨ . Actors Jack Palance and Lee Marvin were veterans of World War II as were Peter van Eyck and Eddie Albert . Feature film movie debut for actor William Smithers portraying Lieutenant Harold 'Harry' Woodruff , Smithers prior to this role had only worked in television. Spectacular combats and fights , battle sequences were filmed on the back-lot of two studios: The RKO-Pathé Studios back-lot and the Universal Studios back-lot. Appropriate and evocative musical score by Frank De Vol , Aldrich's usual . Adequate and atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Joseph Biroc .

Well made on the RKO lot in only 35 days for a minimal budget of $750,000 . The motion picture was stunningly realized by Robert Aldrich who gave a tense and brilliant direction . Aldrich began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, and directed his first feature in 1953 (Big Leaguer ,1953). Soon thereafter he established his own production company and produced most of his own films , collaborating in the writing of many of them . Directed a considerable plethora of genres but almost all of his films contained a subversive undertone . He was an expert on warlike genre (Dirty Dozen , The Angry Hills , Ten seconds to hell) and Western (The Frisko kid , Ulzana's raid, Apache , Veracruz , The last sunset) . Rating : Above average , it's a must see and a standout in its genre .
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8/10
I could have been Erskine Cooney
helpless_dancer17 June 2004
It would seem political correctness prevailed even back during the big bloodletting. The military should screen it's officers very thoroughly before giving them the command over others' lives. Captain Cooney should never have been issued a uniform much less been promoted to such a high field rank. Most of these old 40's and 50's war films leave me colder than a dead kraut but this was way above the fold. Yes, some of the special effects were a bit tame and a couple of the sets looked like what they were, but this was one gritty, ugly tale of the horror and waste of combat. The entire cast was excellent in their portrayal of soldiers in a hopeless situation. Many familiar old faces in this one, most of whom are no longer with us.
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8/10
Impressive War Drama
Theo Robertson7 April 2004
Anyone remember a 1965 war movie called BATTLE OF THE BULGE ? That's the movie supposedly set during the Ardennes campaign in Belguim but instead of seeing snow shrouded forests we're led to believe the conflict took place on dusty desert plains . Unfortunately with ATTACK director Robert Aldrich makes a similar error in geography and weather conditions . There's no snow to be seen ( Apart from some fake snow in one scene ) there's no forests and you do get the feeling the movie was filmed on a hot summers day no matter how the cast try and convince you other wise . In fact I felt rather sorry for the actors dressed in heavy greatcoats jumping up and down trying to get into character and it's interesting to note that by half way through the movie everyone has stopped in their vain attempts trying to convince the audience it's a very cold day

That said ATTACK is a very impressive war drama - and please note I used the word drama in the last sentence . It's based on a play but unlike a lot of movies based on plays that often use flashback to tell the tale the roots of the source is hidden , this actually feels cinematic . The movie centres around the conflict Lt Costa who blames his commanding officer Captain Cooney for getting his platoon wiped out . The human drama of cowardice and command and the motive of revenge feature very heavily . It should also be pointed out how well Captain Cooney is written and played by Eddie Albert , he's relatively sympathetic as a weak man who seems caught up in things outside his control though at the end he does become a sort of melodramtic carichture . The whole cast do a good job and the scenes with Lee Marvin and Eddie Albert together are superb . It's such a pity no one seems to make war movies this intelligent anymore
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One of the best
none-6721 June 2000
One of the best war films ever made, this gritty little-known gem features Jack Palance in perhaps his best role. The dynamics of a small infantry unit just about at the end of its tether in WWII Europe are portrayed extremely realistically. Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin, and Buddy Ebsen give great supporting performances.

The film is in B&W and has all the dirt and sweatiness and fear that is characteristic of really good work done in the 1950's.

No pretty boys here
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8/10
Excellent But Under Appreciated WWII Drama
bsmith555221 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"Attack" is a WWII tale about a company of American soldiers fighting somewhere in France over some God forsaken town.

Jack Palance stars as a battle hardened platoon leader who becomes embittered with his commanding officer (Eddie Albert), who through cowardice has caused one of Palance's squads to perish in battle. The rest of the story follows the efforts of Palance and fellow platoon leader (William Smithers) to have him removed. Unfortunately Albert's commander (Lee Marvin), who has his own agenda, refuses to cooperate even though he is aware of Albert's incompetence. A second incident follows where more of Palance's men are lost over Albert's failure to act. Palance then vows to take matters into his own hands.

Palance and Albert give excellent performances as Lt. Joe Costa and Capt. Cooney respectively. Lee Marvin in an early lead role as Colonel Bartlett is also good. Rounding out the cast as members of Palance's platoon are Buddy Ebsen, Robert Strauss and Richard Jaeckel. Look for Strother Martin in a bit at the beginning of the picture.

"Attack" with it's stark black and white photography, realistic battle scenes and memorable performances by its stars, has got to rank as one of the most under appreciated of all WWII movies.
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9/10
This film had a powerful effect on me!
Hobopoet11 November 2006
I clearly remember seeing this one night while I was still in high school. I was impressed with what appeared to be honest and accurate.

Not long afterwards, I had proof. I survived two years as a conscript infantryman during the Viet Nam nightmare, and saw first hand what war does to people.

I am deeply dismayed when our leaders either don't understand war, or intentionally hide the truth. War is a horror beyond comprehension by those who have not seen it personally.

This film, and Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, should be required viewing for every American!
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9/10
You're not just careless or a coward. You're a criminal.
Spikeopath4 December 2011
Attack is directed by Robert Aldrich and adapted to screenplay by James Poe from the play, Fragile Fox, written by Norman Brooks. It stars Jack Palance, Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin, William Smithers, Robert Strauss and Buddy Ebsen. Music is by Frank De Voll and cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc.

Europe 1944, Battle of the Bulge, and an American G.I. company not only have to contend with the German forces, but also with their own cowardly Captain.

Tough as nails and dripping with cynicism, Robert Aldrich's Attack falls into a small group of excellent war movies that exude a grim realism. The material to hand doesn't pull it's punches as it features heroic men captained by a coward (Albert as Erskine Cooney), whose cowardice is ignored by their superiors on account of his father's political pull. That it dared to suggest such a scenario ticked off the military to the degree they refused to give any aid to the production, meaning Aldrich had to make his movie on a minimal budget and with only a handful of military equipment he was able to rent or buy himself. This fact makes the finished product all the more remarkable, with Aldrich crafting a film of narrative potency that's punctured with periods of violence.

Starkly shot in black and white by ace cinematographer Biroc, film always feels claustrophobic, suitably edgy and bleak. Yet there is big heroic characters within the story, real men front and centre to the horrors of war. The military's refusal to aid the film seems daft, men such as Lt. Costa (Palance) and Lt. Woodruf (Smithers) are men to be proud of, that they stand against cowardice and the political manipulations of Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett (Marvin) is note worthy and to be applauded. Would the might of the military rather the public be ignorant to the corruption of power? Attack depicts men of war as human beings reacting to said war, no soft soaping, differing responses are portrayed. This is no perfect world where thousands of personal are driven by a collective will, Attack calls it that there are bad eggs in every organisation, and it makes for a riveting viewing experience.

Packed with powerful performances and directed with a keen and clinical eye, Attack is a bold and brilliant movie that still packs a punch even today. 9/10
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10/10
Gritty hardcore war drama, with fine performances
bux25 October 1998
Warning: Spoilers
Albert is the ineffective commander, Palance the subordinate that swears revenge. This one is not for the squeamish, the scene where Palance is ran over by a tank is shocking. More shocking is the wonderfully psychotic performance by Albert, as the mentally disturbed commander. Lee Marvin has a nice supporting role, this one will make your skin crawl.
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10/10
Films we should see before we go to war
msato4040409 May 2010
After having just watched "Tigerland" (2000), starring Colin Farrell, I was reminded of the very first anti-war film I'd ever seen (when I was about 10), namely "Attack!" (1956), starring Jack Palance, who owned the craggiest, ugliest face ever to not need make-up to be scary; his debut in "Shane" (1953), as the scary sinister hired gun Jack Wilson, was the opposite of comic relief, call it spinal-chill. In his role as 2:41:19 AM. Joe Costa, Palance was perfect, the scary guy you wanted to be on your side.

As a 10-year-old, I didn't think about the deeper meanings that directors and writers were trying get across; yet, the mood, kinda like film noir meets WWII, at the masterful hand of Robert Aldrich, conveyed a stark vision of the vise-grip with which battlefield stress crushed polite society's facade of decency and civility. That came through even to my immature sensibilities. In doing so, "Attack!" did what great anti-war movies are supposed to do - it altered my view, that of a young boy who, like so many young boys, had been propagandized (by our polite society) to have a glorified view of war. You're never too young to learn wisdom.

The horrors of war, especially the horrors of the politics of war, were delivered into the collective psyches of Americans during the Vietnam War with graphics we were rarely allowed to see before. Aldrich's version of "fragging", the term, newly minted from the Vietnam conflict, for lobbing a grenade at your own officers, is given an earlier cinematic debut in "Attack!" That scene pierced my childish glamorization of combat. Too bad it wasn't required viewing for more of us.
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9/10
Unforgettably powerful
TheLittleSongbird28 May 2015
Having liked a lot of Jack Palance and Lee Marvin's work, and after hearing Attack described as one of the best films for both actors, I watched Attack with high expectations...and fortunately was not let down at all.

Attack may not fit the definition of visually stunning, but it's very professionally photographed, is shot in crisp black and white that still looks good now and the claustrophobic production values are entirely appropriate for the atmosphere and setting of the film and come off very effectively. The score drives the action well and doesn't feel out of place or cheesy.

The script is poignant, hard-hitting and remarkably honest, without trying too hard, it gets a touch melodramatic towards the end but not dreadfully so, just in comparison to the rest of the film. Attack also has a very compelling story, with action/war scenes that pulsate with intensity and suspense, emotional moments that are genuinely heart-wrenching rather than overwrought and Palance's climatic scene has got to be one of the most harrowing in a war film. While Attack may have unpleasant characters, it doesn't neglect to make them interesting and in the end these unattractive characters are also ones that are easy to care for and relate to, ones where it is also easy to understand their actions. It's very skilfully directed by Robert Aldrich, who never lets the tension slip and makes the story constantly engrossing while avoiding the dangerous traps it could easily have fallen into.

Lastly, to say that the cast are very strong is an understatement, the acting is top-notch and there are a few career-bests here. Coming off particularly well is Jack Palance who has never been better in an unforgettably gut-wrenching portrayal, and while Lee Marvin has had meatier characters in his career he still gives his role here his usual steely intensity. Eddie Albert is skin-crawlingly good too, while his character is a weasel and malevolent at times in the second half of the film it was surprising at the amount of sympathy I felt for him. Buddy Ebsen is impressive and William Smithers plays one of the film's most sympathetic characters very believably, to the extent that one wonders why he didn't do more films.

To conclude, an unforgettably powerful film that has the acting and its emotional impact as its main strengths. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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10/10
A painfully accurate film about war
r-romano3 December 2007
My father was a veteran of World War II, and he suffered all of his remaining life - 20 years - after it was over. This was his favorite film. And this is back when you had to be lucky enough to catch it on TV.

When it became available of VHS cassette, I immediately bought it, years after my father died.

I asked him why he loved this movie so much. He told me it was just like the way it was. Each day was the day you were going to die. And, no one was going to help that.

He fought because he had to, and wanted to. But that didn't make it any easier.

The film shows much of the conflict and interplay between senior officers, but underneath all of that, it is a film about fighting in that war.

I cannot recommend it more.

Don't expect anything glorious. It is hard to watch. But it makes movies like 'Saving Private Ryan' look weak.
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10/10
One of the best war movies
dkmk-13 June 2005
This movie affects you in on an emotional level where the characters shortcomings are magnified by the stresses of life and death. It goes beyond the reality of war scenes, which are almost as good as Saving Private Ryan.

I felt that "ATTACK" should have been at the top of Eddie Albert's list of accomplishments. This movie shows the true depth of his acting capabilities. He should have been nominated for best supporting actor.

Jack Palance is excellent as true American war hero, not only fighting the Germans, but the army's hierarchy. Lee Marvin performance as the villain is comparable to the French generals in Paths of Glory.

What I do not under stand is why this movie is not shown on TV or so difficult to rent or purchase.
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8/10
Instead of your average "Hollywood" war drama, your above-average morality play.
lancaster277828 June 2004
Wow! Where should one start with such a complex gem?

This movie wastes very little time stripping away the expected "Hollywood" treatment of war dramas and exposes some of the ulterior motives always involved whenever mankind goes to war with itself. The true glory, ultimately, belongs to the cast--so many jewels involved in this one! Jack Palance is one of my favorites, and his performance in Attack! is unpredictable and marvelous! (That scream will stay with me always.) Eddie Albert's Cooney--cowardice and cruelty personified. We're not on THE farm in this one, folks. William Smithers, Buddy Ebsen and Lee Marvin also sparkle throughout this elegy to WWII and human nature. If you ever get a chance to view this one, (and I hope you get the chance) put your thinking cap on, watch carefully and remember to pick yourself up off the floor when it's over. This film packs an honest, gritty wallop!
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9/10
Tough, gritty, and memorable
Kirasjeri28 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This was perhaps the first of the post-WW II movies that emphasized disillsion and cynicism in lieu of glory; it pre-dated "Hell is For Heroes" (just as cynical) by six years. It's December of 1944 and an American company is commanded by a pusillanimous and cowardly Captain who got his job owing to his colonel's favoritism - the colonel (an oily Lee Marvin) needs the captain's powerful father for post-war political influence. The colonel (played marvelously by Eddie Albert) costs many men's lives by his cowardice, and senior platoon commander Lt Costa (superbly and intensely acted by Jack Palance) threatens to kill the captain if it happens again. And that's only the first part of the movie! The only fault this brutal film has is a budget that wasn't as high as it could have been regarding the scope of the battles. But it's a great movie, and finally on video.
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10/10
Outfoxed
writers_reign20 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't seen Norman Brook's play 'Fragile Fox' on which James Poe based his screenplay, indeed I doubt if many people saw it but it's reasonable to suppose that Poe has 'opened it out' considerably and in doing so effectively 'shown' us what could presumably only be spoken of onstage. What is undeniable is that Robert Aldrich brought out the best of Jack Palance; this is one of two films they made together back to back in 1956 and both are outstanding. Coincidentally both were adapted from stage plays though Cliff Odet's 'The Big Knife' enjoyed by far the highest profile of the two in theatrical terms. It's fun trying to speculate which of the several interiors Brooks used in his play but what Poe has done is to weave together seamlessly 'action' and dialogue and the result is a near-perfect movie. War, of course, is only a convenient backdrop for the exploration of human nature in extremis with, at one end of the spectrum, Costa's (Palance)courage and humane love of the men under his command and at the other Cooney's (Eddie Albert) moral bankruptcy and cowardice. Approaching the centre of the spectrum from either ends are Lee Marvin's Clyde Bartlett, overall commander of the company who is more than aware of Albert's failings but needs his clout (Cooney's father is a judge back home) to further his post-war political aspirations and William Smither's Woodruff, in complete accord with Palance (and, it must be said) the entire platoon in both contempt for and hatred of Albert but much prefers to approach things through channels and 'by the book' rather than take a confrontational 'hands-on' stance like Palance. This is a great film on any level in which you care to judge it and in tandem with The Big Knife marks the apex of both Adrich's and Palance's careers.
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9/10
No one who saw it, forgot it.
fredschaefer-406-62320425 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
By the mid 1950's, many of the men who had fought on the front lines in World War II had reached an age where they could look back on their service in the war and honestly discuss some of the very un-heroic things they had experienced. This new maturity manifested first in literature like Herman Wouk's THE CAINE MUTINY and James Jones's FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, both made into excellent movies. ATTACK, which came out in 1956, is based on a stage play and it dealt with the enormously corrupting effect the brutality of war has on the men who fight it; the movie turned out to be tough stuff for its time and more than holds up after all these decades.

The main reason ATTACK still resonates is because it was directed by the great Robert Aldrich, a master film maker who knew how to make great entertainments while never pulling his punches when it came to the brutal aspects of his stories and was equally at home directing war movies like ATTACK, melodramas like THE BIG KNIFE, westerns like VERA CRUZ and ULZANA'S RAID, or psychological horror films such as WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE and HUSH…HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE. The man knew what he wanted and how to get it all up there on the movie screen.

ATTACK is not an epic on the same level as BATTLEGROUND or the much later SAVING PRIVATE RYAN; its scope is small, mainly because Aldrich's production company could not procure cooperation from the Pentagon because they had understandable problems with the script. But this ground level view of the war in Europe perfectly suit's the story of an infantry unit saddled with a cowardly commander whose incompetence is as much a threat to the men he leads as the German Whermacht. When orders compel the badly fatigued soldiers to advance into an enemy held town, the ensuing carnage causes long held back tensions to explode as one Lieutenant turns upon his Captain with murderous fury. It all ends in a gripping final scene, set in a basement as the GI's hide from the advancing Germans, where men pushed to their limits, do what they have to do.

ATTACK is filled with some to the finest tough guys and character stars of its time, starting with Jack Palance as Lt. Costa, a brave soldier on the battlefield who is tired of suffering the ineptitude of his immediate superior and Lee Marvin as Colonel Clyde Bartlett, an officer with his eyes already fixed on a post war political career. In between them is Eddie Albert's Captain Cooney, the useless son of an important Kentucky politician, a man so utterly unfit for the responsibility placed upon him that he curls up on his bed when the German's attack. This is one of Palance's finest performances, worthy of an Oscar nomination; it is notable in that Palance, one of the great scenery chewers, really underplays it here until his final, agonized confrontation with Albert in the cellar. Eddie Albert had a long, very versatile career, often playing nice guys and sidekicks to bigger stars, but he had a knack for portraying unsympathetic characters as well, and his Erskine Cooney was one of his best examples of the latter-a man who won't even try to over come his weaknesses, who would rather surrender to the Germans than face the risk of combat. Palance, Albert and Marvin were decorated veterans, Albert winning a Bronze Star for bravery at Tarawa. It's obvious their wartime experiences infuse their work here.

The supporting cast include a lot of familiar faces such as Buddy Ebsen as a capable Sergeant; gravelly voiced Robert Strauss playing a variation of the character he played in STALAG 17; Richard Jaeckel playing essentially the same soldier he played in at least a half dozen other war films. Strother Martin turns up briefly and German born Peter Van Eyck, playing an SS officer, was a naturalized American citizen who served in the US Army during the war. William Smithers plays Palance's fellow Lieutenant, who ultimately faces a difficult choice in the end between doing what is expedient or doing what is right.

The B&W cinematography by Joseph Biroc, who worked often with Aldrich, is superb; there is also some terrific dialog that hits with effect of a bullet: "Captain, down around where I come from, we dearly love our whiskey. But we don't drink with another man unless we respect him."

A few years later Ebsen and Albert would be starring in "The Beverly Hilbillies" and "Green Acres," two of CBS's top rated rural comedies, material about as far from ATTACK as they could get. Marvin would go on to work with Aldrich several times, most notably in THE DIRTY DOZEN; interestingly his Colonel Bartlett, swaggering in his spotless uniform, gives us the only hint what his PATTON might have looked like-he was the producers first choice for the role, but Marvin passed on the part. Smithers would go on to do a lot of work on TV, most memorably a decade later on a classic episode of "Star Trek" where he played a Star Fleet officer who, unlike his officer in ATTACK, does not do his duty. Albert and Aldrich would reunite when he played the Warden in THE LONGEST YARD.

Many of the reviewers for ATTACK on IMDb mention how they first saw this movie as a kid on TV and how it made a strong impression on them. It has some of the strongest scenes in any war movie of its time, especially the part where a German tank roles over a screaming Palance's arm and pins him there. I can attest that this stuff, not BAMBI, was what we wanted to watch when we were young boys. It has been called a forgotten film, but not by anybody who has seen it.
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9/10
Exciting, thoughtful WWII film
runamokprods12 June 2010
Powerful, complex war drama of a cowardly officer getting his men killed in WWII.

Politically way ahead of it's time. In the 50s it wasn't common to question the heroism of any American soldiers, much less officers. It's a movie with very tense, well-staged action scenes, very well acted by the leads. Although the film had a low budget, it's hard to tell unless your looking for it.

Jack Palance and Lee Marvin are terrific, and if Eddie Albert is a bit on the nose, he's still effective. More than most war films, it leaves you with ideas to ponder. Some of the supporting performance are a bit OTT, but not enough to cause any real damage.
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