The Devil's Brigade
Andrew V. McLaglen
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During the early days of World War II, England hastily plans commando raids against the German forces to keep them at bay until the United States finishes massing its forces and starts sending America's troops into battle. In order to tie up the German forces and as a part of England's plan, the Allies create the 1st Special Service Force to prepare and carry out an attack on Norway. Antagonism immediately erupts between Canadian Maj. Alan Crown (Cliff Robertson) and American Maj Cliff Bricker (Vince Edwards) when this commando force, composed of Canadian soldiers and American GIs, is headed by Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick (William Holden), a paper-pusher given his first field command. Frederick utilizes their mutual dislike as a basis for a rivalry that turns this rag-tag group of misfits into a disciplined fighting force. Frederick receives word that the Norway mission has been canceled after his men finally seem ready to fight. After appealing to Washington for another assignment for the commandos, the brigade is sent on a patrol near the German lines in southern Italy. The brigade captures an enemy-held village and is then given the seemingly impossible task of taking Mt. La Difensa.
Pretty good movie, although some editing could have been better, like when an American GI is tackling a German and they add his grunts and wheezes after the shot. Strange. But it is a worthwile movie I think. Really good actors. But it still takes second to Saving Private Ryan.
A well researched movie about a little known group of fighting men. The men were the forefathers of todays Army Special Forces. Actually known as "The Black Devils" because they smeared black camoflage on their faces the First Special Service Force first saw action in the Anzio Campaign. Unlike what is represented in the movie, Monte La Difensa was actually the first combat action for the force. Casualties for the force in the italian campaign were unbelieveably high, close to 70%. William Holden does a credible job as Col. Frederick and Cliff Robertson is outstanding as Maj Crown whom I believe represents Lt Col. McWilliams of the Second Regiment. All the basic historical elements are correct with some chronological rearrangement perhaps. While the movie does a good job presenting the difficulty of carrying out such an operation, the true story is even more daring. The assault on Monte La Difensa took place in the middle of the night in December 1943. A bold and daunting task taking that many men up a sheer cliff face in the darkness. But it is hard to film a military assault at night, so we should forgive hollywood this minor inaccurracy in order to tell the story. However, I cannot find any historical basis for the assault (in the movie) on the town of Santa Anita. That said, the concept, formation, training (except for the omission of paratrooper training), and the assault on La Difensa are well done. Most notable is the bonding of men who share danger and the closeness that ensues.
A first rate film and you have to give them a nod for accuracy. Not perfect but pretty doggone good. Two thumbs up.
A classic WWII movie
I love this movie, it tells about a ragtag American brigade, made up of prisoners, gamblers, and all around bad soldiers. When a stuck up, professional Canadian unit comes to add to the brigade, things get ugly and funny. They eventually learn how to live with each other and and win mission after mission. All around great movie which is just as much funny as it is action-oriented. Great for anyone who loves war movies or action comedies.