World War II drama where the action centers around a single maneuver by a squad of GIs in retaliation against the force of the German Siegfried line. Reese joins a group of weary GIs unexpectedly ordered back into the line when on their way to a rest area. While most of the men withdraw from their positions facing a German pillbox at the far side of a mine-field, half a dozen men are left to protect a wide front. By various ruses, they manage to convince the Germans that a large force is still holding the position. Then Reese leads two of the men in an unauthorized and unsuccessful attack on the pillbox, in which the other two are killed; and when the main platoon returns, he is threatened with court-martial. Rather than face the disgrace, and in an attempt to show he was right, he makes a one-man attack on the pillbox.Written by
According to Don Siegel in his autobiography, he did not succeed in making Steve McQueen cry for a specific scene, even using the Stanislavsky method, until he put drops into McQueen's eyes to simulate the tears. Siegel said that McQueen had the strongest eyes in the world. See more »
When Reese, Henshaw and Kolinsky are low crawling through the mine field they are trying to find mines with their hands at night. This would be suicide. The actual military way to find land mines is by using a bayonet and probing with the tip at an angle into the dirt. See more »
Pvt. Dave Corby:
Hey, how you doin', buddy? As you can see, we eat very well around here. Hey, on the up and up, if there's anything you might need, I'm the guy to see around here. If I don't have it, I can get it for you.
Pvt. John Reese:
Pvt. Dave Corby:
Oh, excuse me. I didn't recognize you, General.
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This Don Siegel directed film is a very simple war film--similar to Sam Fuller's STEEL HELMET. Both films involve a very small group of American soldiers who are holding out against a larger enemy force and as a result, it's a very tense and claustrophobic film. Unlike STEEL HELMET, this is set in WWII and has a lot of stars and soon-to-be stars, such as Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Bobby Darin, Bob Newhart and Harry Guardino--though at the time, none of them were "big" stars.
A group of only six guys are given the task of filling in where a hundred soldiers had been the day before. The problem is that the Germans are just across the battlefield and the Americans have to try and convince the enemy that there are a lot more than just the six guys. So, they use a variety of ruses to try to keep the Germans at bay--ultimately culminating in an insane attack against a heavily defended pillbox. When this fails, the rather surly and antisocial McQueen decides to try it again....and practically alone.
Overall, it's an incredibly tense film and one with a lot of realism--perhaps too much for some (my wife got pretty upset during one of the bloodier scenes). The acting and direction are very good--in particular, Steve McQueen did an excellent job following the first abortive attack--showing a lot of the effects of exhaustion and fear. However, the whole "court martial" scene following this was a bit silly--it seemed excessive and hard to believe for the Commanding Officer to respond to this brave action this way--or at least it seemed this way to me. Also, the film, towards the end tended to use too much stock footage--a bit of a minus in an otherwise good film. But at least it did end on a very tough and tense note--a definite plus.
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