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Set during the Pacific War against the Japanese, this WW2 drama discerns between achieving one's mission at any cost versus preserving the lives under one's command and enforcing discipline through fear as opposed to mutual respect.
In Korea, on 6 September 1950, Lieutenant Benson's platoon finds itself isolated in enemy-held territory after a retreat. Soon they are joined by Sergeant Montana, whose overriding concern is caring for his catatonic colonel. Benson and Montana can't stand each other, but together they must get the survivors to Hill 465, where they hope the division is waiting. It's a long, harrowing march, fraught with all the dangers the elusive enemy can summon. Who will survive?Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Through a combination of bad diplomacy and an understandable war weariness from World War II, the USA was caught completely off guard when the Communist North Korean government attacked the Southern forces that we were training. We had few enough forces and they were driven to what became known as the Pusan perimeter in 1950 when General MacArthur pulled off the two pronged counterattack out of the perimeter and from the landings at Inchon.
Robert Ryan is a lieutenant leading a small group of survivors who are caught behind enemy lines to safety. These GIs are not battling for any glory, but simply for survival. Also retreating are Sergeant Aldo Ray in a jeep with a shell-shocked Colonel Robert Keith. Ryan commandeers both Ray and the jeep for his needs.
Ryan is a good officer, but by the book. Ray is a good fighting man, but very insolent. The remainder of the film is how these two guys who grate on each other's nerves, but manage to work together.
The film is directed by Anthony Mann, best known for his westerns in the Fifties that mostly starred James Stewart. Men in War is probably best compared to Bend in the River. Jimmy Stewart is taking supplies to settlers for their survival and his own and Ryan is essentially doing the same thing in this film.
Ryan was a multi-faceted actor who sometimes played leads, but mostly did good character parts as bad guys. He had worked with Mann and Stewart previously in The Naked Spur where he was as bad as they come. He's just as convincing as the gritty, but decent lieutenant here. Mann and Ryan would team again the following year in God's Little Acre, a subject far removed from the Korean War.
Men in War is a good film, photographed very realistically in the outdoors and has the look and feel of a newsreel with depth.
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