Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Devil's Brigade (1968)

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

Starring: William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards, Andrew Prine, Jeremy Slate, Claude Akins, Jack Watson, Richard Jaeckel, Luke Askew, Harry Carey Jr, Michael Rennie, Carroll O'Connor, Dana Andrews, Patrick Knowles

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What they did to each other was nothing compared to what they did to the enemy!

Plot: A fictionalized account of the First Special Service Force, the joint Canada-US World War II commando group under the command of Col. Robert T. Frederick. The Canadians are the best that the Canadian army has to offer: spit and polish, multi-skilled and all experienced soldiers. The Americans are the dregs of the US Army: misfits and troublemakers lacking any kind of discipline. Over time, Frederick forges a unified, highly competent fighting force. Initially trained for a commando operation in Norway, Frederick has to move quickly to keep the unit together after the operation is canceled. They are sent to Italy where they distinguished themselves in numerous battles.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

I've only ever seen bits and pieces of this when I was a kid and remembered it kind of being like THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967) and now that I've seen it, it has less to do with DOZEN and stands on its own quite well. It's not as good (let's face it, how many are?) but it's still a very enjoyable WWII actioner from a time when they were making bigger than life, fun WWII pictures with top stars.

The cast does a fine job, it's light in tone early on when it needs to be and badass serious when appropriate. There are more action set pieces than you'd think considering half of the picture is one long training sequence and even though the climactic battle at the end isn't as tremendous as you might want, it's still a good one and it might be more realistic because of the small piece of real estate involved. But the little maneuver they pull in town capturing a shitload of Germans before that is a lot of fun.

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