One Good Movie - Mental Combat
A weekly newsletter for movie lovers with taste but not much time.
It’s the start of Memorial Day weekend in the States.
War films can run the gamut from thrilling, to comic, to tragic.
This week’s film is a cynical war picture made without the cooperation of the United States Armed Forces.
Released in 1956, it stars three real-life World War II veterans.
Jack Palance. Eddie Albert. Lee Marvin.
Palance plays the tough Lt. Joe Costa. Albert is the cowardly Capt. Erskine Cooney. Marvin’s Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett has post-war political ambitions.
At the start of the film, Cooney fails to act, and Costa’s men die.
Cooney soon orders another mission. If reinforcements aren’t sent, Costa promises to come back and shove a grenade down Cooney’s throat.
Many younger viewers may only know Palance (if at all) from his later work in City Slickers or his mesmerizing turn in Tango & Cash. Here he gives a gruff and soulful performance.
In real life, Albert was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism.
If you’re from the States, and around my age, then one or both of your grandfathers served in World War II.
My grandfather was a captain in the Army.
He was scheduled for D-Day, but his fleet of boats was delayed due to rain. He arrived on D+3, then spent the rest of the war fighting through Europe.
He never spoke about it.