A U.S. colonel makes a commando unit out of a Canadian major's crack troops and a U.S. major's misfit troops.
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Dismissed in 1968 as a plodding rip-off of The Dirty Dozen--without that 1967 film's sardonic, antiestablishment satire--The Devil's Brigade now plays like a nostalgic last gasp of the sentimental World War II action genre. Celebrating the 1st Special Service Force (a commando-like unit formed to fight in Norway but ultimately deployed in Italy), this typically broad Andrew V. McLaglen production recounts the teaming of some miscreant GIs with "the handpicked best of the best-trained army in the world"--the Canadians--under a U.S. officer (William Holden) who had never commanded men in combat. The first hour, heavy on machismo and low comedy, depicts the unit's training at an abandoned base in Montana, with nonstop international rivalry until Yanks and Canadians bond in a lusty saloon brawl. After that, the Germans are easy meat. Holden is solid, as usual, and so is the widescreen work of veteran cameraman William H. Clothier, impeccably rendered on the DVD. --Richard T. JamesonFrom the Back Cover:
They were misfits, rebels... and heroes. Oscar® winners William Holden and Cliff Robertson topline this riveting World War II saga based on the true story of the First Special Service Force. Capturing the drama of combat with "outstanding" cinematography and an "exceptionally strong cast" (The Hollywood Reporter), The Devil's Brigade is a thrilling tribute to this renowned fighting unit.
Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick (Holden) takes on the daunting task of melding a renegade group of American and Canadian recruits into a crack team of commando warriors. Frederick's superiors doubt the rookies until Frederick volunteers them for a perilous attack on a Nazi stronghold in the mountains. His men will be outnumbered and outgunned, but that's a fair fight to "the devil's brigade." Fact from the Vault: The U.S. Department of Defense provided 300 members of the Utah National Guard to play soldiers in the mass battle scenes filmed on Wasatch Mountain.
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