Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cease Fire! (1953)

 Director: Owen Crump

Writers: Owen Crump, Walter Doniger

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Starring: Roy Thompson Jr., Henry Goszkowski, Richard Karl Elliott, Albert Bernard Cook, Johnnie L. Mayes, Cheong Yul Bak, Howard E. Strait, Gilbert L. Gazaille, Harry L. Hofelich, Charlie W. Owen, Harold D. English, Edmund Joseph Pruchniewski, Otis Wright, Ricardo Carrasco, John Maxwell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: REAL because it's in Life-size. REAL because it was actually filmed in Korea!  REAL because it's Stars are Real Fighting Men!

Plot: In this documentary, actual American soldiers and others re-enact a real Korean War operation, with some real battle footage, filmed some time before the actual truce. The story: with peace supposedly imminent, Lieut. Thompson and 13 men of his platoon are ordered on a deep scouting mission to check for last-minute treachery. Assorted perils are encountered, ending with a decidedly un-peaceful battle.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

I was fortunate enough to be in Los Angeles recently at the same time the World 3D Expo was happening at the famous Egyptian Theater.  Sadly I was only able to attend the final day of the Expo but at least I was able to see this and the Martin & Lewis picture, MONEY FROM HOME (1953) on the big screen and in their original 3D format.  The presentation was spectacular. Before this film began there was someone, I forget her name, who spoke to us at length about the story of one of the soldiers in this picture, Carrasco I believe, who impressed Hal Wallis so much in the dailies that Wallis offered him an acting contract.  He was going to groom Carrasco into a star.  Carrasco (while just behind the front lines in the Korean War) flat out refused.  All he wanted was to get back to the front line with his buddies and kill the enemy.  He hounded his commanding officer for days and weeks, and after filming his death scene and thus the picture, he was released to the front line.  That very night he was killed on patrol, hours before the war was officially over.  It was a heartbreaking story.  Out of respect for Carrasco's mother, Wallis had Carrasco's role reduced and another soldier shoot the death scene.  The result is Carrasco is barely in the picture.  It's a shame Wallis didn't leave Carrasco's substantial role alone.  Diminishing it feels like an insult.  But it's still a compelling story, one that screams out to be filmed.  I encourage you to read a much more detailed account of this at HERE.

As for the picture, I loved it.  There were a couple of actors in the bunch (that were in the war) who were great but then so were the soldiers acting for the very first time. Yeah, there were some clunky line readings but it's easy to overlook that because you know they were the real deal.  I dug the action, fighting, suspense, etc. but it was seeing real soldiers firing real weapons (they weren't actually fighting the enemy as they were quite a few miles behind the front line so it was staged) very close to the real action itself AND it's in 3D!!!  Seeing this in that format and on the big screen was stunning. It blew me away.  It will be interesting someday to revisit this film.  I'm sure I'll never get the opportunity to see this in 3D again, making me wonder how it will hold up in 2D and on a MUCH smaller screen.  We'll see.

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