A Major with an attitude problem and a history of getting things done is told to interview military prisoners with death sentences or long terms for a dangerous mission; To parachute behind enemy lines and cause havoc for the German Generals at a rest house on the eve of D-Day.Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Director Robert Aldrich hated to work in England. British crews were too slow for his fast pace of working. See more »
The raid takes place on the night before D-Day, when paratroopers are being dropped behind the lines in Normandy. The Germans knew something was up, officers would be returning to their units, the lights in the chateau would be out, and security on alert. See more »
Splendidly Produced; a Tough and Tough-Minded Film
Many viewers of film, myself include, rate this as one of the most exciting "mission"'' stories of all time. Adapted from an intelligent but Freudian source novel, the plot theme is a subtle one for a movie; it's about convicted men in WWII being given odds for life in the form of a suicide mission that may wipe their slates clean-- or perhaps not... its main theme is self-assertion, set against its opposite, enforced repression. The key to every action men undertake in this very tough and and tough-minded Nunnnally Johnason and Lukas Heller script is: "Is that person dealing with the reality of the world of and his/her own responsibility to act?" From convict Telly Savalas' character, mystical murderer of women who claims a divine calling to punish their sexuality, to Charles Bronson and Jim Brown who reacted to persecutions and are innocent by reason of self-defense, to their leader, the mission's architect, Major Reisman, who wants his plan to go forward his way despite resistance from brass, every man of the outfit is tried against the same standard. Jimenez is climbing a rope and says he can't make the tower; Franco refuses to shave because the officers have hot water and he does not, Posey can't control his temper, control-freak Col. Breed hates any man who does not go by the book; etc. As a production, Robert Aldrich's direction is probably his masterpiece; the acting is far above average, especially Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker, Robert Webber, energetic John Cassevetes and Al Mancini; the inspired casting of powerful top-sergeant-level Ernest Borgnine as an obviously far-beyond-his element general works brilliantly. The art direction, special effects, sets, and music (by Frank de Vol) all complement a taut script filled with memorable terse dialogue. Entire sequences such as the selection interviews for the mission team, the building of the camp, a visit to Breed's hq, Breed's invasion of the camp, the training regimen, the "graduation party", Reisman's verbal defense of his men, the war games' challenge, preparing for the mission, the early invasion steps, Maggot's adlib, the attack by Reisman's team, the escape and the hospital climax and denouement--all these sections are made memorable to many admirers of this beautifully made and unusual story. As officers attached to the mission, George Kennedy, Richard Jaene-too-subtle secondary theme of the film is: the wrongness of arbitrary power in anyone's hands, including Nazis, US army officers or their brutal agents (such as Breed's men who beat up Charles Bronson for information). The film is about individuals who when they harm no one else and are effective human beings, men who can always get the job done, always control themselves. who need to be free to operate. Such men the film says are "heroes"--men with an unusual ability to create results on Earth; the sort of men films ought to be made about in a nation that talks individualism and claims to value capability. This is a great adventure, of enduring artistry, occasional brutality and intelligently-developed dialogue. It has logical actions, and spectacular physical performances and This is a strong and well-thought-out adventure film, one of the richest of its genre, to be watched many times.
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