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Hornets' Nest (1970)

In 1944, during a sabotage mission, the sole surviving U.S. paratrooper is saved by a group of Italian orphans who later aid him in blowing-up a vital enemy dam.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Turner
... Bianca
... Von Hecht
... Schwalberg (as Giacomo Rossi-Stuart)
... Maj. Taussig
... Aldo
Mauro Gravina ... Carlo
John Fordyce ... Dino
Giuseppe Cassuto ... Franco
Amedeo Castracane ... Tonio
Giancarlo Colombaioni ... Romeo
Ronald Colombaioni ... Mikko
Valerio Colombaioni ... Arturo
Giuseppe Coppola ... Rico
Luigi Criscuolo ... Paolo


A commando unit is dropped behind the German lines in Italy and its mission is to blow up a strategic dam. However, the unit is ambushed and only its leader survives. He is picked up by a ragtag group of local youths, who strike a bargain with him--they will help him blow the dam if he will help them get revenge on the Germans, who have taken over their village and killed their parents. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Bust The Dam!-- Blow Up The War! See more »


Drama | Action | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some war violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

9 September 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Il vespaio  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name of the dam to be destroyed is Della Norte, which means "Dam of the North". The film is set, and was filmed, in northern Italy. See more »


Although the story takes place in 1944, all the hair styles are strictly in the 1970 mode. Hudson's fashionably long hair is strictly unmilitary, and he even sports 1970 sideburns and a handlebar moustache; Koscina's big hair is a 1970s trademark; even the kids look like refugees from the streets of the era in which the film was made, not at all like World War II orphans. See more »


Bianca the Italian Surgeon: I'm a doctor, not a soldier.
Captain Turner: You're tied in with us now, until it's over.
See more »


Referenced in Django Unchained (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Italian Anti-War Film
15 November 2002 | by See all my reviews


This is one of many Italian WWII adventure films to be released in the late 1960s / early 1970s. It's a familiar story, presented in a unique way with some American aspects thrown in.

Leading man Rock Hudson stars as an American commando. His team is parachuted into Italy to blow a colossal, strategic dam. Hudson's unit is ambushed and he is the only survivor. He is "rescued" by a band of Italian youngsters, who con him into helping them wreak havoc on the Nazis who took over their town and killed their families. Meanwhile, Capt. von Hecht (Sergio Fantoni) leads a hunt for Hudson and must cope with the S.S. to do so.

This movie has a lot of fine aspects. First of all, it's got a very good international cast. American star Rock Hudson has had his share of fame in plenty of classic movies; he's had experience in the war movie genre, too, in TOBRUK and the marvelous ICE STATION ZEBRA. You'll see more of the incredibly beautiful Sylva Koscina than you've ever seen before; she's a nurse who's captured to aid Hudson, but is non-essential to the story. Just there to look at ... and there's plenty to see. Sergio Fantoni (VON RYAN'S EXPRESS) is very good as the one-eyed German Captain von Hecht, who will stop at nothing to stop Hudson from destroying the dam. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (BATTLE FORCE, THE LAST 4 DAYS) has a very minor part as Fantoni's aide. Mark Colleano is incredibly good as the selfish leader of the youngster gang. His performance is brilliant and he deserves more credit than he gets. Plenty of familiar "German" character-actors ... Tom Felleghy (THE BATTLE OF EL ALAMEIN) appears as a German colonel. Max Tarilli (THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE) as a German Colonel. Gerard Herter (LAST DAY OF THE WAR) as the commander of the dam. Watch for Andrea Bosic from DIABOLIK as a German General.

The action scenes are sparse and involve few extras. The last big scene on the dam is well-done for the most part, but there are still a few corny moments. Several times, the camera focuses on a sole machine-gunner and you can hear men screaming, but you never get to see the victims. The cinematography is marvelous and breathtaking, as this was filmed on location in Italy. The musical score by Ennio Morricone is pretty good, but surprisingly not anywhere near as good as his Leone scores. The script is intelligent is tells a familiar story from a unique viewpoint; showing young pre-teens battling the Nazis with machine guns and grenades is something that's rarely done. No striking dialog or directorial tricks from Karlson, who did the great HELL TO ETERNITY ten years earlier, but it's still a good adventure / suspense flick. The only negative thing I can think of is the HORRIBLY OUT OF PLACE antiwar statement near the end. It stresses that people get so caught up in war that they make horrible mistakes and come to mourn over them later on. Come on, guys -- the first 105 minutes showed war as a big adventure, and the last 5 makes it look like a colossal tragedy. Sure, I think war IS bad and should be avoided if possible; but if you're gonna make an action movie, don't try to make a big statement at the end. It ruins what's been accomplished during the rest of the movie.

I saw this on video from MGM. It's an incredibly rare VHS tape, released for a short time in 1993. I found a brand new one on half.com for a great price and snatched it immediately. The print is pan & scan, except for the credits, which are widescreen, I'd say about 1.78:1. The colors are accurate and striking. There are hardly an flaws like scratches, etc. This is worth seeking out and buying for a decent price.

Overall, for the cast, Morricone music and unique approach to the subject matter, I'll give it a 6/10. With a better ending, it could have been a 7/10.

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