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Merrill's Marauders (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 16 March 1962 (Finland)
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During WW2, a 3000-strong American unit, known as Merrill's Marauders, battles the Japanese forces in Burma.

Director:

Samuel Fuller

Writers:

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

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

True story! Incredible story! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was released in 1962. At the end of the movie there is a parade review that features the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. See more »

Goofs

The role played by the Chinese Nationalist Army in the campaign is completely absent. In reality, troops from the 42nd and 150th Chinese Infantry Regiments of the X Force were a major part of the fighting; indeed the final victory at Myitkyina was only possible after Chinese reinforcements were flown in.

The role of Japanese-American translators who served with the 5307th is also ignored. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Featured in The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera (1996) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Movie that Shows Us What Real Heroes are All About
11 February 2006 | by SgtSlaughterSee all my reviews

The best way to understand a man's emotions are to look into his eyes. What does the look on his face tell you about his mood? Sam Fuller knows that. This is a movie about the faces of ordinary men in battle. What brings them joy, what makes them angry, what fatigues them. Fuller, a former soldier himself, knows how to convey these emotions in a way few filmmakers ever have been able to.

In 1944, "Merrill's Marauders", a group of American volunteers, trekked across Burma to destroy several key Japanese bases. There was a legitimate fear that the Japanese would trek through Burma to India and link up with Hitler's forces in Europe. The Marauders played an important part in stopping this link-up, at great cost to their own lives.

The movie makes us understand what it must have been like to be a soldier in World War II. It's important to realize that the Marauders were expecting a reprieve very early on the campaign, and were pushed far beyond normal physical and mental limitations to complete their mission. Merrill (brilliantly portrayed by Jeff Chandler) has a heart condition himself, but keeps it a secret from his men, who come to loathe him – until he collapses from a stroke, and they realize he has been pushing himself just as hard, if not harder than, his own troops.

Just what causes the stress they endure? First, the death of their friends. Lt. Stockton (Ty Hardin, in one of his best performances) expresses frustration at having to write letters home to the families of the dead in his platoon. Gradually, the number of families he must write to increases. The men left under his command are trudging through several hundred miles of swamp, fearing detection by the enemy at any given moment. They are without sufficient food, infected with malaria and typhus, and lack enough medical supplies. Then have to fight off or meticulously avoid every enemy unit they encounter. By the end of the film, every man we saw at the start with a clean shirt and freshly shaven face is either dead, or wearing tattered clothes, unkempt hair and most likely wounded or exhausted from disease. These are normal men who miss their homes and families, and want to go home badly – they don't let the audience forget that, because it's almost all they talk about – and rightly so.

Although some of the battle scenes seem sanitized compared to post 1965-standards (the usual fake-looking "seizure" death scenes, bloodless hand-to-hand combat), the aftermath is shockingly realistic and haunting. There is one scene in which Lt. Stockton slowly walks across a maze of concrete tank-traps, where a pitched close-quarters battle has just been fought, and sees and endless tangled mass of bodies – both American and Japanese.

Fuller lets his camera linger on these moments. There is one scene where Merrill gives an order to his subordinate and Fuller keeps the camera on the officer's shocked and disappointed face for just long enough to let us start thinking about what is going inside the nameless man's head. Likewise, he makes the Philippine locations come to vivid life, especially the dark, confined sequence in the swamp. Only a few scenes set in pine forests near the end of the film look jarringly out-of-place.

"Merrill's Marauders" only weakness is in its almost forced jingoistic patriotism. The opening scene, a montage of documentary footage narrated by Andrew Duggan, sets us up for a flag-waving movie about American heroes single-handedly wiping out the Japanese Empire without effort, as has been seen in countless other war films. Likewise, the film's conclusion speaks of the heroism and dedication of the Marauders as if they and the entire U.S. military were immortal saints. These segments seemed tacked on, and I would bet in a minute that the military, who aided in production of the film, required that these scenes be included. Oh, yeah, and the ridiculous music score does not help much, either.

Am I patriotic? Yes. Do I support the American military? Of course. Who makes a war movie web site in order to cut down war movies? I love 'em. The body of the film is about ordinary fighting men and their dedication to each other. Not to a cause. I'm sure that when men were in the trenches together during WWII (and any other war, for that matter) their primary dedication was to their buddy next to them, not for a glorious cause.

I have a soft spot in my heart because Frank Merrill was my grandmother's cousin. So I have a bit of a tie to him and the history he and his men made, I suppose. That bit of prejudice doesn't change the fact that this is a great movie, and deserves a DVD release A.S.A.P.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 March 1962 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Merrill's Marauders See more »

Filming Locations:

Pampanga, Philippines See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

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

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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