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Merrill's Marauders (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 14 June 1962 (West Germany)
During WW2, a 3000-strong American unit, known as Merrill's Marauders, battles the Japanese forces in Burma.


Samuel Fuller


Milton Sperling (screenplay), Samuel Fuller (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Jeff Chandler ... Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill
Ty Hardin ... 2nd Lt. Lee Stockton
Peter Brown ... Bullseye
Andrew Duggan ... Capt. Abraham Lewis Kolodny, MD
Will Hutchins ... Chowhound
Claude Akins ... Sgt. Kolowicz
Luz Valdez ... Burmese girl
John Hoyt ... Gen. Joseph Stilwell
Charlie Briggs Charlie Briggs ... Muley (as Charles Briggs)
Chuck Roberson ... Officer
Chuck Hayward ... Officer
Jack C. Williams Jack C. Williams ... Doctor
Chuck Hicks ... Cpl. Doskis
Vaughan Wilson Vaughan Wilson ... Bannister
Pancho Magalona Pancho Magalona ... Taggy


Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill leads the 3,000 American volunteers of his 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), aka "Merrill's Marauders", behind Japanese lines across Burma to Myitkyina, pushing beyond their limits and fighting pitched battles at every strong-point. Written by Martin H. Booda <booda@datasync.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

american | army | japanese | crying | bowl | See All (100) »


How they fought those last 500 miles will remain forever in your memory! See more »


Adventure | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 June 1962 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Durchbruch auf Befehl See more »

Filming Locations:

Pampanga, Philippines See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (archive footage)| Black and White (archive footage)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A lot of the music in the movie was lifted from Objective, Burma! (1945) and composed by Franz Waxman. See more »


General Stilwell tells Merrill that he is concerned about the Japanese linking up with the Germans in India. This was a fear in 1942, when the Germans had conquered a vast expanse of Soviet territory, and it looked like they would reach the Caspian Sea and then Persia. But the German advance was turned back at Stalingrad in February 1943. At the time of the conversation in the movie, in early 1944, the Germans were being pushed out of Ukraine. They had no chance of linking up with the Japanese any more. See more »


Bannister: Do you know what I'm going to do after the war? I'm going to get married and have six kids. Then I'm going to line them up and tell them what Burma was like. And if they don't cry, I'll beat the hell out of them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: JANUARY 1942 See more »


Referenced in The Hateful Eight (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Gut Check Theater
18 May 2010 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Though a war movie, "Merrill's Marauders" makes its deepest impressions in the scenes between the battles.

As a unit of exhausted American soldiers claw their way along a rocky slope, one falls to a screaming death. The others pause a moment to watch, then resume climbing.

At one village, a boy gives a crusty sergeant played by Claude Akins a bowl of rice. The sergeant tries to smile, only to break down instead.

"When you lead, you have to hurt people," General Merrill (Jeff Chandler) tells his prize officer "Stock" (Ty Hardin). "The enemy, and sometimes your own."

Sam Fuller was a war vet as well as a director. In making his war films, he struggled to keep it real while at the same time delivering popular entertainment. "Merrill's Marauders" leans too much in the latter direction, with hokey battle scenes and gung-ho narration. But Chandler and Hardin provide sympathetic rooting interests. The cinematography by William Clothier captures riverine landscapes in all their harsh and wild beauty.

The real story of the 5307th Composite Unit and its role in retaking Burma provides a solid backdrop for Fuller's cold view of war and its human toll. Of the 3,000 troops that started out, only 100 remained standing at the end, typhus and Japanese taking equal measure of the rest. Merrill's decision to press forward ("If they've got a single ounce of strength left, they can fight!") is portrayed as a cruel necessity, this much softened from the real GI take on Merrill's boss, Vinegar Joe Stilwell. Stilwell was roundly hated by the Marauders for pushing his boys too hard.

This is something we don't see here. Cooperation with the U.S. military required some futzing on Fuller's part, which he did in hopes of following it with a pet project regarding his own World War II experience that would only emerge 18 years later: "The Big Red One".

The battle scenes feel forced and phony. Fuller himself would complain nobody dies in war as neatly as in movies, and you see that a lot here. A perversely favorite moment for me is when a soldier named "Bullseye" shoots a Japanese soldier off of a watchtower. The soldier starts to fall, then pauses, grabs a baluster, and performs a neat tuck-and-roll in the direction of an offscreen mat.

The one battle scene that works, even with the inane fanfare scoring that is this film's single worst element, is a fight through a maze-like warren of train-support blocks at the railhead town of Shaduzup. Japanese and American soldiers appear and fall in random, endless waves. I don't think soldiers in World War II really called each other "knothead", but moments like those at Shaduzup really connect and help to pull this film over the finish line - however raggedly.

Though probably a bit too rah-rah for Fuller's fans, "Merrill's Marauders" packs a punch and some moments of affecting surprise.

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