Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Yes, war is hell ....

THE VICTORS. Good to see this 1963 anti-war film getting a rare airing on our TCM in the UK. It does not look 50 years old - written, produced and directed by Carl Foreman it is a very mixed bag now, but has a sensational cast acting out various episodes showing how war corrupts everyone, victors as well as losers and victims, as it follows the fortunes of a squad who arrive in Southern Italy and move up to occupied Berlin at the climax, intermixed with newsreels of war coverage at the time. Maybe Foreman (who produced THE GUNS OF NAVARONE) meant it to be a riposte to the gung-ho 1962 Zanuck all-star THE LONGEST DAY, but they must both have been in production about the same time ...
There are lots of strong sequences, some a bit over the top such as the execution of a deserter in the winter snow to the accompaniment of a Sinatra christmas song, and the shooting of the dog one soldier had befriended, as the squadron moves on and the dog runs after them ... there was also a now-deteted sequence showing a boy who sleeps with soldiers for money or food. The two main leads are Georges Peppard and Hamilton, one forgets what interesting young actors they were before excess and the perma-tanned life took over. There are also Vince Edwards, Eli Wallach, Maurice Ronet, Michael Callan, Peter Fonda, Robert Mitchum's son and, for a minute or two, a young Albert Finney for that grim climax in Germany. Wallach has a good episode with Jeanne Moreau ... (below).
The film was sold on its joblot of prestige European actresses at that interesting time when there was that growing interest in international cinema (The only female in THE LONGEST DAY was Zanuck's mistress Irina Demick) - so here we have Romy Schneider (below) as the young musician corrupted into being a prostitute, shell-shocked French widow Jeanne Moreau, war profiteer Melina Mercouri, lonely Italian wife Rosanno Schiaffino and Elke Sommer and Senta Berger as two sisters enjoying wartime benefits in wartorn Berlin. Something for everyone then! 

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