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Tribute to Israel's Military Genius and Fighting Heart
bkoganbing17 August 2005
The great fighting heart and spirit of the Israeli people was not developed by one man. It was embodied in the dream of every Jewish peasant who for two previous generations contributed even pennies to Theodore Herzl's Zionist organization. And for the holocaust survivors it represented their last chance for a place in the world that was truly their's. No longer to be a guest in everyone else's country.

The heart and spirit were there when part Palestine became the state of Israel, but the military leadership was provided by a man born like myself in Brooklyn, New York. Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus was a West Point graduate who opted for a civilian career as a lawyer and dabbled in politics. His political allies at one time or other were Fiorello LaGuardia and Tom Dewey. He held various appointive positions in the LaGuardia administration in New York. When World War II broke out, Marcus went back in the army and for the most part given his legal training worked in the Judge Advocate General's office, but later did see combat with the Third Army under George Patton.

Kirk Douglas plays Marcus and for him, this must have been a role he relished given his background as the son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine. The film opens with James Donald representing the Haganah literally accosting Douglas in Macy's 1947 and explaining he's about the fiftieth person they've contacted to be a military adviser to the provisional government in Palestine. Douglas explains he hasn't been in Temple since his bar mitzvah and really doesn't consider himself much of a religious Jew or even a cultural one. By the end of the film, he's developed pride in his religion and ethnicity and earnestly commits to the struggle.

You might have expected Douglas's own Bryna Productions to have produced Cast a Giant Shadow, but co-producing it with the Mirisch Brothers was Batjac Productions which was John Wayne's company. Wayne took a minor role in the production as General Mike Randolph who is clearly Patton. Made clear by the prominent two stars Wayne has on his helmet in flashbacks to World War II which later become three stars during the scene of a concentration camp liberation.

Well Patton as we all know was killed in December 1945 in that jeep accident in occupied Germany. So obviously a decision was made to fictionalize Wayne's name in order to give him a bigger part as a man who encourages his former subordinate in his work.

And if Wayne were fictionalized then some others had to be also. Yul Brynner as Asher was definitely Moshe Dayan who was winning the Six Day War when Cast a Giant Shadow came out. Luther Adler's character name was Jacob Zion and he was clearly David Ben-Gurion. Michael Hordern has a brief part and is just listed as British Ambassador in the credits and that would have been Lord Halifax then.

Also fictionalized was Marcus's fling with his female aide who is played by Senta Berger. She serves kind of like his Kay Summersby. Should never have been part of the film, but maybe the producers decided a little sex was needed. Marcus's wife in America is played by Angie Dickinson.

Even though Cast a Giant Shadow is based on a true story, the film does suffer in comparison to the film made of Leon Uris's novel about the founding of Israel, Exodus. Most of that novel did make it on the screen. It's characters were better developed in a much longer film that held the interest throughout.

Cast a Giant Shadow also had its moments of silliness. There was a whole scene with Frank Sinatra as a mercenary pilot joining the new Israeli army dropping seltzer bottles on the enemy. Whatever possessed the powers that be to let that into the film?

I will say that the battle scenes were well staged and the politics albeit one sided were clearly stated. Like Exodus in that way. One of the most moving scenes of the film was the announcement at the birth of Israel of the telegram from the American President Harry Truman announcing recognition of the new state accompanied with reverent singing of the Hatikvoh, Israel's national anthem. That same scene was also in Exodus, but both were done well.

Of course the climax of the film is when Luther Adler makes the American visitor the commander over all the forces on the Jerusalem/Negev front. As he says, the last man who held this title is found in the Old Testament of the Bible and his name was Joshua. That's the scene when Kirk Douglas finally realizes what his heritage truly is and it is moving.

Despite it's flaws, Cast a Giant Shadow is a wonderful tribute to the men and women who fought and still fight to maintain the State of Israel. Even though it does suffer in comparison to Exodus, it has plenty of merit on its own.
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Terrific story of Israel's 1st general in 2000 years
magbo16 May 2009
Excellent cast, intelligent script, heart-warming scenes of loyalty, determination, re-discovered faith, sobering scenes of the cost of freedom, wow! I was completely engrossed watching this film, the story of General David "Mickey" Marcus (Kirk Douglas), who in 1948 became the first Israeli general since Joshua of Biblical times. This film came out when I was 14 and I have somehow missed seeing it all these years. I had no idea what I was missing.

What I don't understand is the grumbling and complaining about what a "bad" film this is. Huh? I loved it! Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Yul Bryunner, Senta Berger and Frank Sinatra were perfectly cast in their roles. The script covered the highlights of the War of Independence during the brief time time Marcus was involved, and I don't know what more you could expect for a feature film. To tell the story of the war completely and thoroughly would take a miniseries of 20 hours or more. Yes, the special effects look dated now, but you can't fault something because it doesn't use technology that hadn't been invented yet. Also, learning that Senta Berger's character was fictional and apparently only inserted to make a good story, was a disappointment. However, her character was a wonderful metaphor for Marcus' newly found love for Israel and re-discovery of his faith, after living as a secular American Jew for his entire life. (At one point Marcus says he hasn't been to temple since his bar mitzvah).

Also, I must say that I think the person who complained here on IMDb about John Wayne's reaction to seeing the Dachau concentration camp in the World War II flashback is completely off the mark. Wayne, as Pattonesque American general Mike Randolph, struggles to keep his emotions intact as he looks at the horror of the camp his troops have recently liberated. He orders his adjutant to give Marcus whatever he needs to tend to the Dachau survivors and turns away, his back to the camera. He leans against a fence, head down, physically and emotionally overcome. What would you want him to do in such a situation? I suspect the objecting person just doesn't like John Wayne no matter what the film or what his role.

His son Michael Wayne was co-producer with the film's director and screenwriter Mel Shavelson, and Wayne's Batjac Productions is one of four production companies listed. Another reviewer here has cynically suggested most of the budget went to Wayne's salary and I say balderdash! I'm quite sure the Wayne family's interest and participation in this film was not merely financial. I'm equally sure they wanted to help tell this story of the Israeli struggle for freedom they thought the world should hear. Then and now, for that matter.

I want to thank the Showtime networks for airing this film in the USA on May 16, 2009, which happened to be two days after the 61st anniversary of Israeli independence day. Nice touch, and a terrific weekend to see this film.
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A giant cast....a moderate shadow.
Poseidon-35 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A truly remarkable figure in military history is given an alternately dignified and silly tribute in this nicely appointed biographical film. Douglas plays a U.S. Colonel who is approached to advise the military operations of the scattered tribes and groups that are about to form Israel. To his wife Dickinson's dismay, he leaves soon after the close of WWII and works to organize and stimulate the rather ragtag factions in place. In flashbacks, his previous exploits in the war (including his parachute jump into D-Day and his dismantling of the concentration camp at Dachau) are briefly shown. Once in Israel, he works alongside present leader Brynner, though they are occasionally at odds. He is assigned a curvy and attractive liaison in the form of Berger. The forging of Israel is a far more complicated and massive undertaking than seemingly possible and many lives are lost on both sides as a result. Finally, Douglas is able to help make it all happen, though ultimately he is unable to see the fruits of his labor. Douglas gives his typically solid, square-jawed performance, providing his character with guts, bravado and foresight. Dickinson barely bothers to get dressed in her thankless, clingy role. Most of the time she is in bed, getting out of bed or about to go to bed and spends the bulk of her screen time fretting about the fact that Douglas isn't around enough. The story is set in the forties, yet she is given a bouffant Mary Tyler Moore-ish flip (though they do stick a flower in it in one scene to capture the period detail!) Berger is luminous and exceedingly appealing, though she isn't given a chance to really show her bravery and heroism as other females in the Israeli army are. Given the circumstances, it's easy to see why Douglas is tempted by this (fictional?) woman. The film features rather flashy supporting roles by three big names of the day. Sinatra shows up late in the game as a pilot who pitches in to help the cause. He tosses off a zinger or two before trying to fight armed Arab jets with seltzer water! Wayne (billed as "The General"!!) seems like he's only going to show up briefly and toss around his heft, but he's actually in the film for quite a while and adds some dramatic weight to it. Brynner seems unduly subsidiary when one is used to seeing him as the King of Siam, ordering everyone around and getting it done! However, he does a nice job in his role. Topol is enjoyably hammy as an egotistical Arab sheik. The film is attractively shot and has some large scale action scenes along with some impressive crowd scenes (no CGI here, folks!) It also features a very rousing and beautiful score by Elmer Bernstein. In truth, the story should have focused more on the military and strategic accomplishments of its subject and less on his (supposed) melodramatic romantic entanglements. A sequence near the end involving the building of a road and the testing of it is a winner. The potential for it to be a deep and meaningful portrait are diffused somewhat by a script that calls for Douglas and others to make pithy, clever comments in the heat of tragedy. It winds up being a soapy, cartoonish sketch of a man who truly accomplished a great deal. Additionally, (**SPOILER**) - the real Marcus was shot by a guard in part because he was draped in a blanket, making him appear more like an Arab in the dark. Here, he's wearing his regular uniform and carrying a rose! How threatening is that? It was a senseless change for him not to be wrapped in a blanket, especially since he - in this version - had just come from a rendezvous with Berger.
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Good action but so-so writing
irishtom2927 September 2005
I thought some of the battle scenes in the picture were very good, especially the battle in which the Israelis attack the fort held by the very professional Jordanians and are defeated, the shot where wave after wave of attackers emerge from the standing wheat was very well done.

For what it's worth most of the weapons were realistic, the Jordanians were equipped with the proper British arms; SMLEs and Vickers and Bren guns. I'd liked to have seen Glubb Pasha.

The story goes back and forth between sappy and inspired. The scene where the Israelis declare their independence brought tears to my eyes but I'm notorious for the manly tear.
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A good and spectacular epic film with all-star-cast and a lot of cameos
ma-cortes27 May 2004
The movie deals upon the birth of State of Israel . It's based on real deeds . Here David , ¨Mickey¨ , Marcus (Kirk Douglas) , an American Jew and general of the WW2 who helps the Jewish to build the State of Israel . There are various flashbacks remembering exploits of Marcus during second world War . After that , he goes to Israel and he commands the troops . Marcus formed an Israel's formidable army to fight during the 1947-1948 struggle for Independence . Mickey is in every military action , culminating in a dangerous mission through a risked pass to arrive in Jerusalem .

¨Cast a giant shadow¨ follows the fabulous career of Col. Mickey , he is Kirk Douglas who does a first-rate acting as the daredevil Israeli commandant . John Wayne plays as an American general , he is excellent , as always . Yul Brynner is a Jewish colonel who has the command of the army that will defeat the Arabs . There's a warmly glowing portrait of a woman warrior from Senta Berger . And Luther Adler gives an awesome acting as Ben Gurion . The ending with its spontaneous sentiment on the people when takes place the Independence declaration is the most moving moment in the movie .

The music from Elmer Bernstein is impressive and cinematography by the Italian Aldo Tonti is magnificent. The flick will appeal to history buffs . This propaganda motion picture was well directed by Mellville Shavelson . Rating : Acceptable and passable , well worth watching. Rating 6.5/10
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A Giant Shadow of a Cast
fastball174019 June 2004
One of the greatest casts ever assembled for a single film including Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Senta Berger, Angie Dickinson and others was put completely to waste in this film of unfulfilled potential. Sadly, despite a disproportionate amount of Jews in influential positions in Hollywood, Exodus and Cast a Giant Shadow remain the only two major films on the subject of Israeli independence.

Clearly almost the entire budget was spent on a two minute cameo by John Wayne because even for 1966 the special effects were poor, the dialogue was flat, the plot was boring, many scenes made little sense, and every actor either seemed bored with his or her role or they overacted. For a movie based on actual events the filmmakers due an incredibly poor job of explaining how things actually come to pass in the movie, maybe the truth was just too boring. The film sends a message but it is poorly conveyed and in the end I simply am left unsatisfied with a desire to see a Longest Day type caliber movie about the Israeli War of Independence.
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CAST A GIANT SHADOW (Melville Shavelson, 1966) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI15 July 2007
Earnest, well-mounted but essentially dreary epic about the real-life involvement of an American Jew in the post-war struggle for Israel's independence – thus sharing its theme with EXODUS (1960), and clearly aiming (but failing) for a "Marcus Of Israel" feel!

Kirk Douglas stars as Mickey Marcus – perhaps chosen due to the character's similarities to another historical figure forced by circumstances into leadership, Spartacus, whom Douglas had portrayed in 1960. He's supported by an eclectic cast which includes Angie Dickinson as his neglected(!) wife, Senta Berger as the Israeli girl he falls for, Topol as an ill-tempered Arab sheik, Luther Adler as a local politician, a plethora of reliable British character actors – and even guest appearances by Frank Sinatra (which doesn't amount to much), a glum Yul Brynner as a fellow freedom fighter, and John Wayne as a U.S. General whom Douglas initially falls foul of but the two eventually end up respecting one another (still, seeing Wayne at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp is about as incongruous as his stint playing the Roman Centurion at Christ's crucifixion in THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD [1965]!).

Despite a sharp script and good individual sequences, the film is compromised by its necessity to be both a spectacle and a message picture (the WWII flashbacks, for instance, are unnecessary and merely render the film overlong); unsurprisingly, it works best during the action highlights (complemented by a typically fine Elmer Bernstein score). Apparently, the events have been partially fictionalized – I wonder whether these embellishments concerned the romantic complications and the Hollywood-style ironic ending. For the record, Shavelson had started out as a scriptwriter (and later director) of Bob Hope and Danny Kaye vehicles; this was his most serious effort – a brave try, but not quite the 'giant' film he clearly intended...
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Giant shadow.
Robert J. Maxwell19 May 2005
I don't know why this movie doesn't work, but it doesn't. I guess I'd hold the writers and the actors responsible -- the direction is efficient and the score good.

The script tells us things that most of us already know, without adding much that we didn't. Thankfully it avoid extensive shots of the death camps. If anyone needs to be told about that, he's hopelessly benighted anyway. That mass genocide was perhaps the most horrible expression of the baser impulses of human nature, and like any transcendental event should be treated with caution, not with an eye to the box office.

Still, the dialog is flat and ordinary. Giant closeups of faces telling us important things -- "For the first time, I've realized I'm a Jew" -- doesn't really help. It's like being hit over the head by someone wielding a crowbar and yelling -- "GET IT? GET IT?" Yes, we get it. Stop already.

Kirk Douglas isn't bad. In fact he's pretty good, outdone only by Topol as an Arab sheyk -- "I course your Faddair." Cheese, Topol is good. And so is his role. He plays "The Sheik of Arabie" on a Victrola and rolls his eyes with glee.

John Wayne's performance is perfunctory and so is Frank Sinatra's, but the latter's involvement is interesting. At one point in the film he protests, "Don't leave me alone -- I'm anti-Semitic." Far from being anti-Semitic he was, let's say, pro-Semitic. Like a lot of recent immigrant families in the Northeast his had a keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of ethnicity, and Sinatra plumped for the strengths in Judaism. He envied and admired Jews for their family values and their solidarity, and even learned to read a little Hebrew. A scene in which he spurts seltzer water at an attacking Arab fighter is beneath comment.

Overall the film is not a success because it doesn't spell out in any detail exactly what Mickey Marcus actually DID for the Israelies. It won't do to have two minutes of Marcus telling them "Attack! Attack!," when ten times that amount is spent on an unconvincing adulterous affair with Senta Berger -- not that having such an affair with such a magnificent woman would be a blot on anyone's escutcheon. (I could never spell that word. It means "shield".) I guess it's worth watching once, just to remind us of a part of history that some of us have not bothered to look into. As a film, (shrug).
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Jerusalem or Bust
wes-connors3 January 2010
After service in World War II, assimilated Jewish-American lawyer Kirk Douglas (as David "Mickey" Marcus), is offered a dangerous assignment in Palestine. There, Allied victors and the United Nations are supporting the formation of Israel through partition. Arriving, Mr. Douglas finds himself on the ground floor of what will dominate the remainder of 20th century in ways they couldn't have imagined in 1966 - the Arab/Israeli conflict. Reluctantly, Douglas finds himself leading the charge…

"Cast a Giant Shadow" is well-named. First, it begins with giant shadow-casting footage of three larger-than-life figures - Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin (at Yalta). Second, it features "special appearances" by giant shadow-casters who normally star in features - Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, and John Wayne (as the General). Third, you have sexy shadow-casting Senta Berger (as Magda Simon), who helps Douglas get over still smokin' wife Angie Dickinson (at home).

This film is what you'd expect, considering the politics and time. Douglas is always a strength; his performance holds the film together through some tough times, and his varied selection of projects is appreciated. A couple of the big name supporting players, once you get over the initial distraction, present real characterizations. Director Melville Shavelson and cinematographer Aldo Tonti make attractive use of the locations. The real story is Douglas juggling Ms. Berger and Ms. Dickinson, not war.

***** Cast a Giant Shadow (3/30/66) Melville Shavelson ~ Kirk Douglas, Senta Berger, Stathis Giallelis, John Wayne
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A good war movie!
Tom Erik Høiås12 November 2008
a forgotten gem amongst all the other lesser known war movies in Hollywood's snack vault. this one revolves around the liberation of Israel(or birth). the people of Israel stand alone against 5 Arab states who have swore to drive them into the Mediterranean sea as soon as British forces leave their land. but the Israelis have no military training or arms to fight back, so they turn to a ww2 veteran (Kirk Douglas) who cant say no because he loves war to damn much. and so begins the training and battle strategy which revolves around bluffing the opponent and literally getting their asses blown to bits. many familiar faces here in small parts , like John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Michael Douglas. this is a different war movie than usual because of the political turmoil that the movies foundation is set on. and it seems like peace is a far away word for either the Israelis or Palestinians. but even so the movie packs a light tone of humor and wise cracks now and then. Good movie overall, watch it if you like old war movies.
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Enjoyable film about the birth of Israel.
Psalm 5223 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Not an epic, but certainly watchable. Douglas plays the part well. If I was Jewish I'd be proud of this film. The story (of their struggle to bring forth international support for a legitimately recognized nation) is presented straight-forwardly w/out propaganda and/or lecturing. The supporting cast is well-rounded w/ Brynner and Berger especially useful in moving the drama forward. Sinatra has an extended cameo and Wayne (for once) is watchable. The subplot about how Dickinson loses a baby and wants a divorce is unnecessary, but it does humanize Douglas' character although just his involvement in the cause for Israel makes him human enough. I didn't pay attention to the music score like some of the other reviewers have pointed out, but did enjoy the battle scenes (especially the assault on the Arab League's fort) and Douglas' scenes w/ Adler.
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An Epic that Never Was.........
migliore1725 August 2003
"Exodus" & "Cast a Giant Shadow" are the only films I know which focus on Israel's War for Independence. "Exodus" was too talky, "Cast a Giant Shadow" should have been a great film, up there with CB DeMille's 1959 version of "The Buccaneer", or the 1932 version of "All Quiet on the Western Front". Yet "Cast a Giant Shadow" was virtually ignored when released.

I remember in 1969 the director was on Johnny Carson and "Cast a Giant Shadow" came up, the director began explaining the plot and that the film had Yul Brenner, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Senta Berger, Angie Dickersen. Seated next to the director was an earlier guest, and he thought the "Cast a Giant Shadow" was a great idea, he wanted to know when the film woulded be released. Then was told it had been released two years earlier. The director then explained why he believed the film was panned. He answered; it was because it contained an important scene were Frank Sinatra gets killed.

Several years later my father told me a story that when the outside shots of the film Marty were being filmed in the Bronx, around Gunhill and White Plaines Roads, Ernest Borgnine was frequently heckled by bystanders who yelled, "Get lost, you're the guy who killed Frank Sinatra" (Here to Eternity)
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Hollywood does it again, a great story turned average
tresross9 January 2009
Every time the situation in Israel flares up I catch this movie. No, it is not the definitive movie on the creation of Israel from a military standpoint. What it is, is a good first try to show the overwhelming odds the fledging nation faced with no support form outside. The cast of so many good actors shows that everyone in Hollywood wanted a piece of this one. If you read the biography on Mickey Marcus, which this movie prompted me to do, you would want to be in any movie about this Giant. F.Y.I General Marcus is the ONLY U.S. ARMY OFFICER TO BE A GENERAL IN TWO COUNTRIES ARMY'S. That is worth a movie attempt even if it comes out poorly.
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Love Boat
tieman648 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Flatten all of Gaza! The Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no neighbourhoods, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing!" - Gilad Sharon

"The essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest." - Einstein

The early 1960s saw the release of a number of Zionist flicks. These films typically portrayed brave Jews working in tandem with world leaders to set up the modern State of Israel. Standing in the way of our heroes are always various "evil Arabs", all hell-bent on killing Jews and destroying Israel (Israel "officially gained independence" in 1948). Two of the more famous films in this wave were Otto Preminger's "Exodus" and Melville Shavelson's "Cast a Giant Shadow", the latter co-funded by John Wayne, everybody's favourite psycho patriot.

Most of these films are racist, propagandistic, demonize "Arabs" or selectively ignore the various atrocities and/or massacres committed by Britain and Zionists during the early 20th century. Unsurprisingly, they also adhere to Stuart Kaufman's famous 7 rules of nationalism. One: if an area was ours for 500 years and yours for 50 years, it should belong to us - you are merely occupiers. Two: if an area was yours for 500 years and ours for 50 years, it should belong to us - borders must not be changed. Three: if an area belonged to us 500 years ago, but never since then, it should belong to us - it is the Cradle of our Nation. Four: if a majority of our people live there, it must belong to us - they must enjoy the right of self-determination. Five: if a minority of our people live there, it must belong to us - they must be protected against your oppression. Six: our dream of greatness is Historical Necessity, yours is Fascism. Seven: our cultural continuity and purpose matters, yours does not.

Regardless, Israel was illegally formed in the late 1940s, the result of the by-passing of the UN Security Council, and the violent ejecting of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before any lawful international consensus was reached. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of "Israel", the sheer speed and tactlessness at which she was created would lead to decades of conflict. Lessing Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, would prophetically say in 1944: "The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept - is repugnant to the civilised world. I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences." But nobody listened. In an instant, 55 percent of Palestine (85 percent of Palestine was controlled by non-Jewish Palestinians) was taken by a Jewish minority who had previously controlled 7 percent. The Palestinian majority, and their right to self determination, was ignored. Over the years Israel would acquire more land, which it would dub "disputed territory", though international consensus and international law deems these territories illegally occupied and in breech of the Geneva convention and numerous UN resolutions. Zionist mythology likewise portrays itself as the victim of several key wars (the Six Day War, the 1973 war, the Suez conflict, the 1947 war), when historical fact tends to point toward precisely the opposite.

Bizarrely, most of these films use the Holocaust as the sole justification for the creation of the State of Israel. But Zionism predates the Holocaust, and really gained steam in the mid 1800s. Indeed, even the six million number – the official number of Jews who died in WW2 – has been around before WW2, the figure used in the 1800s and early 1900s to sanction various Zionist movements.

The irony is, Palestinians and Jews are virtually identical, have the same paternal ancestors, and the whole concept of "Palestinians" was cooked up and propagated by the Roman and British Empires to scatter and rename Jews for the purpose of strengthening their own rule and destroying cohesiveness in the region ("Philistines", from whom the term "Palestinian" is derived, were originally the enemies of ancient Israelites). A further irony is that many ancient Jews simply converted (most were forced) to Islam and thus eventually became "Palestinians". Many Jewish customs themselves stem from an effort to assimilate to prevailing Muslim customs. And of course Palestine, under the Ottoman empire, was packed with Jews, Christians, Druze, Gypsies and Muslims, all living together.

Some view Zionism as a religious movement (Israel is becoming increasingly atheist), others insist that "tribes" should be allowed to return to where they came, though it is unlikely that persons living in the year 1948 have any kind of memory of, or connection with, life in 1200 BC Jerusalem. Today, Israel is virtually an offshoot of the US military, no longer a state with an army but an army with a state. A common view is that she is a "tiny nation" in the middle of "aggressive Arab nations", but today the truth is the opposite. The northern and north eastern rims of Africa are virtually controlled by the Western Empires, along with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan further south and east. Today, it is Syria and Iran who are surrounded by Western Power.

Regardless, "Cast a Giant Shadow" is a reductive film which does no justice to any position. Like "Exodus", it panders to American and Christian egos ("shocking" romances between Christians and Jews etc), and is designed to rehabilitate the "Jew" for Western audiences after decades of Western persecution. Hollywood did a similar thing with the Japanese following WW2.

2/10 - See "Paradise Now", "Lemon Tree", the masterful "The Time That Remains", Justine Shapiro's "Promises" and Yoav Shamir's "Checkpoint". Worth no viewings.
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Great Cast but the film could have been a whole lot better.
inspt71-14 September 2004
I first saw this film last year and I have to say that I wasn't really that impressed with the way it was made. Melville Shavelson had a good idea but it looked like there wasn't much effort put in this film. For example, the action scenes in this movie were pretty bad. What was with Frank Sinatra dropping bottles of liquid on tanks just to make a lot of noise. John Wayne was good as The General and Yul Brynner also made an good performance as well as Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra. I didn't like that Wayne was so hard headed when he said "God help them, because that's all the help they'll get from us" but I suppose everybody had their own personal say on things. The only thing I found really great about this movie was Elmer Bernstein's music score. This was one of Bernstein's overlooked scores and should be out on CD. Other than the score, the rest of the film is pretty much average.
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joelbarder20 September 2002
This is a wonderful film, the actors superb, Kirk Douglas, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and the brilliant Chaim Topol, I thought he along with Frank Sinatra were superb and funny. A definite film to watch! If u dont youll have missed a brilliant film. the music is glorious by Elmer Bernstein > It is unknown, both the film and the music, but it is one of elmers best scores and one of hollywoods most unknown but wonderful movies. A gr8 10/10
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Great as Propaganda, below average as a feature film
adiomedo27 October 2009
That pretty much says it all. It even has John Wayne! Except the Indians are played by Arabs with keffiyeh instead of feathers. Not to belabor the Dukery, but this movie does for Palestine what "The Green Berets" did for Vietnam. No one expects (or should expect) movies like this to be a documentary, but holy cow! At least if we'd have gotten a little more heat from Angie Dickinson it might have saved the picture. Even the combat scenes are boring. This is the kind of movie that I see coming on and think, "wow, Kirk Douglas, Yul Brenner, Palestine 1948, this is gonna be great" and then you get a movie that could make Leni Riefenstahl blush, and it isn't even entertaining! This is one you can definitely leave off your list.
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Magnificent movie
joelbarder28 June 2002
Cast a giant shadow is a wonderful moving true portrayal of Colonel "Mickey" Marcus of the Israeli army. I have actually been to where one of the battles happened in the film (Latrun) this is now an excellent tank museum which if anybody is visiting Israel should visit. It is on the way to Jerusalem coming from North to South. Going back to the film, I was really pleased that this movie had such a wonderful cast. I thought Frank Sinatra was very funny and thought Kirk Douglas was really excellent as the lead role. I advise anyone who wants to know about past arab-israeli wars, wants a great war movie or just wants an all star cast, to watch this, I have given a full 10/10 for it. Check it out it's brilliant!
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A Rather Bloated Tale On The Founding Of Israel
Theo Robertson23 August 2013
This was made in an era when just about every household had a television and Hollywood doesn't tolerate competition and needed to bring out its big guns . Those howitzers would be big name stars and epic storytelling . Unfortunately by this time this type of film would be dying out and a year later BONNIE AND CLYDE arrived on the scene which changed Hollywood film making with relatively unknown actors starring in smaller scale films that had a dubious morality to them so a film like CAST A GIANT SHADOW would have become relatively dated very quickly by the end of the decade

On its own merits it isn't a bad film though it's certainly not a very good one either . The problem is that " Epic " is often a euphemism for " bloated " , therefore we get to see the main protagonists war experience and family life . Why do we have to see all this ? one can speculate that the war sequences is an excuse to shoehorn John Wayne in to the film that'll appeal to all the manly men in the audience and the family life of the protagonist will get women flocking in to the cinema . It also has the unnecessary addition of Frank Sinatra which like Wayne seems to be included to give box office appeal

It's not just the lack of brevity that's the flaw but the sometimes embellishment to the story that doesn't do it any favours . Some other commentators have gone in to detail so I won't dwell to much upon it but one noticeable aspect is that the Israelis in 1948 are portrayed to being total strangers to war which isn't in any way true . The British Army had a Jewish brigade which served in Italy during the war and were engaged in some very tough fighting in 1944 . Likewise Palmach and Haganah members would have had military experience fighting against Arabs in the Special Night Squads during the Arab revolts of 1938-39 and wouldn't be the inexperienced military virgins as seen here . Sadly the film doesn't make the point that the Irgun and Stern Gang were the purveyors of modern day terrorism that EOKA , the Provisional IRA and many other terrorist organisations modelled themselves upon until Al Quada took terrorism to new depths , but if you've got a Hollywood movie and it contains Brits as an occupying power then it's easy to turn a blind eye , but to be fair it points out it's better to be occupied by the British than the French

That said the Brits aren't full blown villains and the American view of Israelis is I imagine not as black and white as it would be today regardless of your politics . In 1948 the American State Department was very suspicious about Israel since many of its inhabitants were from Eastern European countries and Eastern European equalled communist in American eyes with Zionist support for the country confined to a small American Jewish lobby . The film does touch upon the fact that the fledgling Jewish state obtained its weapons from the international black market rather than being supplied by America with America realising that the Arab lands contain an awful lot of oil so best not to annoy them . It should be remembered that the first arms supply from America to Israel didn't happen till 1965 and the often overstated influence America has over the Israeli state wouldn't have existed when this film was released

In summary CAST A GIANT SHADOW is a relatively entertaining yarn but it's a melodramatic Hollywood movie using big names to make money for the studio . If you're interested in finding out the proper history of the creation of Israel it's a much better idea to read a book on the subject with the only problem trying to find a totally unbiased book on the subject
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Enjoyable film, some great lines, marred by the usual tacked-on romance angles
Seltzer25 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed Cast a Giant Shadow.

Like so many films of its type, it has the obligatory love angles that only slow the film down. Angie Dickinson and Senta Berger are much better actors than their silly parts allow them to be. When Dickinson's characters says to Douglas: "Don't hate me for loving you so much," I wanted to scream. Oh, wait, I think I did scream. After that silliness, I fast-forwarded through the rest of the "love" scenes. As a result, I have no idea what happened in the last scene between Douglas and Berger; somehow I'll still be able to sleep at night.

Another reviewer thinks the scene with John Wayne at the concentration camp is ridiculous and hard to believe. I actually thought it very believable and a remarkably directed and acted scene. Douglas's character has been there before. But Wayne as the general hasn't seen the camps first-hand and seems to think the stories have been exaggerated. Wayne and Douglas walk into the camp but the camera remains in a tight shot on them. So instead of showing us the scenes in the recently liberated camp, the camera shows us Wayne and Douglas's reactions to what they're seeing. It's only a short scene, but the few seconds of the look on Wayne's face register powerfully. It's subtle. He doesn't overplay it with a look of obvious horror, disgust, etc. Instead, there's a sort of confused, muffled pain in his eyes. John Wayne was a much better actor than he's usually given credit for. When Wayne turns to his right and goes over to lean on a fencepost with his head down (trying to compose himself? trying not to puke?), well, that was a powerful moment for me. There was something about seeing that tall, broad-shouldered man have to walk away, shut his eyes, and hang his head. I forgot it was John Wayne for a few minutes, and that's a big compliment to any star actor. I won't forget any part of that scene.

I agree with another reviewer. Douglas' part has too many wisecracks. It gets old. Still, there are some quite funny lines in this film, and not only spoken by Douglas. My favorite is when Douglas is telling the weapons- and manpower-strapped Haganah commander and the others that they have to attack, hit the enemy hard. And Yul Brynner deadpans: "With what? Noodle soup?" Cast a Giant Shadow is not the greatest film ever made, but it's an enjoyable one. Just fast forward through the romantic scenes and you'll be okay.
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A wasted opportunity
grahamsj33 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a decidedly one-sided account of the events leading up to the partition of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel. Except for Topol, playing a sheik, there is no consideration given to the Palestinian point of view. But that aside, the film is poorly written but decently executed. The cast is stellar, containing Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, Senta Berger and Yul Brynner. The story could be epic...the struggle of Israel, alone and lacking weapons, against most of the Arab world. But, as I mentioned, the writing is the film's weakest point. The dialog seems stilted in places. The writing just basically lacks the strength to keep the viewer interested. I also found the sound track quality on the DVD to be poor, or perhaps it wasn't properly mixed. But some parts of the film, particularly dialog, are difficult to understand. If you crank the volume up enough, you can understand the audio OK, but then the music will blast you out of the room. The actual events featured tremendous amount of heroism (on both sides, actually), a story that kept the world's attention riveted on Palestine/Israel for a long time and political wrangling that created the monster that is today's middle east. Yet most of that was left untold. Also unrealistic was the Arab artillery accuracy. It seems that nearly every shot was a direct hit on a moving truck. Nobody's that good. I enjoyed the film on a shallow "action film" level, but was terribly disappointed that it didn't show the true events of the birth of Israel.
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overacted & anti-women
gingeriffic22 May 2003
In the scene where David Ben Gurion announces the creation of the state of Israel someone is conspicuously absent - Golda Meir. I was in that room & they have a chair with her name on it (on the right side, just in front of the table). Why were the filmmakers afraid to show that strong women were very much a part of the creation of the state of Israel? Instead, they wasted time on weepy Magda and self-sacrificing Emma.
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No Giant Shadow Cast Here
zardoz-131 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
John Wayne's production company Batjac bankrolled this war movie about the rise of the state of Israel in 1948 when everybody thought that the Arabs would annihilate the Jews. "Houseboat" director Melville Shavelson inked and helmed this ambitious but muddled biography of World War II military hero Colonel David 'Mickey' Marcus (Kirk Douglas of "Spartacus") who served as an adviser to Franklin Roosevelt. Marcus behaves likes an insubordinate S.O.B. when he ignores the orders of his superior officer and bails out over Normandy. He carries on a love & hate relationship with a two-star American general. After the war, Marcus trades in his uniform for a lawyer's Homburg and an attache case but he is persuaded to act as an adviser to the fledging Israeli army. Yul Brynner, Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson, and John Wayne co-star in a war movie that has more soap opera than shooting. Mind you, it is inspirational stuff, especially when you consider the David versus Goliath predicament in which the Israelis found themselves. Shavelson's screenplay establishes the character of our protagonist as a man who would rather fight than love. The battle scenes are rather tame, but the explosions are well done. Angie Dickinson plays the wife of Colonel Marcus, while voluptuous Israeli freedom fighter Senta Berger cannot take her eyes off him after her own husband dies in the war.

The prologue of the semi-fictionalized "Cast A Giant Shadow" struggles to reinforce the film's authenticity: "The major events in this film actually happened. Some of them are still happening. The major characters actually lived. Many of them are still living. Although it was not easy." Reportedly, Douglas feuded with Shavelson throughout the production. Neither Wayne's production company nor Douglas' Bryna Productions scrimped on production values. "Cast A Giant Shadow" looks well-produced with no end of extras trudging off to fight the war. Unfortunately, Shavelson doesn't conjure up much momentum. When he does get things moving, they inevitably bog down in long dialogue sessions. Nevertheless, the film presents a realistic enough view of the problems that faced an army without any ranking officers, soldiers who didn't know how to switch off the safety switches on their weapons., and an army that spoke in many different languages. Matters are not helped by a downbeat ending after the underdog Israelis construction a road out of solid stone to relieve the besieged town of Jersualem. The ending is a downer and "Cast A Giant Shadow" didn't cast a giant shadow at the box office. Composer Elmer Bernstein contributed one of his least memorable orchestral scores. Filmmaker Otto Preminger fared much better with his earlier epic "Exodus" that covered similar ground. The action was lensed on location in Israel and Rome. Douglas provides his customary bravado, but all he really does is stand around and give orders. Shavelson's direction is barely competent and only one battle sequence when Sinatra flies over an Egyptian tank column tossing home-made bombs is memorable. Naturally, John Wayne is cast as 'General Mike Randolph,' but he appears to be a composite of General George Patton and other American generals. Future "Fiddler on the Roof" star Topol steals the show as an Arab sheik.
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Sluggish pacing destroys this movie
gholste9 March 2009
The pacing in this movie is extremely dated; it would have benefited from a good editing. Although the history presented, allowing for some fictionalizing, is somewhat interesting, the action drags. Also, if you care at all about accuracy in costuming, the costumes and hairstyles will drive you crazy. The movie is set in 1947, yet the characters, when not in military garb, look as if they pulled clothing out of their own 1966 closets and didn't bother to style their hair as it would have looked in 1947. If you're looking for a good war movie, I'm afraid this one will disappoint you. However, if you want to take a nap, pop in this DVD and prepare to Snatch a Giant Snooze.
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One of the greatest
logjunk24 July 2004
Kirk Douglas is at his best in this. The building of the road into Jerusalem had the most impact on me. If one wants to begin to understand the plight of the Jews this is the film to see. Yul Bryner is most convincing as Asher. I still am impressed by his arguing with one of Mickey's decisions but still being willing to do what is needed. This film could have just as easily been made more recently and still would have told a story that needs telling and re-telling. One of the few films of enduring impact. This story tells a side to the nation of Israel that is somehow lost today. Beyond just overcoming adversity it tells the story of the giantness of God's deliverance.
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