Hell Is for Heroes (DVD, 2001, Sensormatic)

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Into the INFERNO

Sep 7, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:McQueen, Parker, Supporting actors, Direction, Screenplay

Cons:None I could see

Action firm director Don Siegel, later to be known for his collaboration with Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry", had a hit in his 1962 war movie "Hell is for Heroes."

"Hell is for Heroes" stars dynamic Steve McQueen and a virtual who’s who of up and coming actors. The black and white film is a riveting experience in the WWII genre. Viewers familiar with TV's "Combat", starring Vic Morrow will know what to expect.

The plot centers on a squad of men, holding the line against big odds. Led by "Sergeant Larkin" (Harry Guardino), members of the squad include, privates Corby (Bobby Darin), Henshaw (James Coburn), Driscoll(Bob Newhart in his first screen role), and recently busted trouble-maker Reese (Steve McQueen), a former First Sergeant, now a private. Nick Adams stars as "Homer", a displaced Polish refugee who attaches himself to the squad and McQueen in particular, who does not like it one bit. The Platoon Sergeant is none other than much underrated actor Fess Parker in a bravura performance.

Guardino's squad plays out their time in foxholes on the front line. Their mission is to defend the retreat of their battalion from the Germans, just over across the clearing. As their troops pull back, the beleaguered squad must make enough noise and movement to convince the Germans the whole command is still there. How they accomplish that comprises some interesting scenes, to say the least. Mechanic Coburn modifies a jeep to sound like first a truck and then a tank. Bob Newhart does a verbal impression of a command center using a field telephone that the Germans have thoughtfully bugged before they pulled out of the area a few days before.

Things quickly start to get worse for the squad when Guardino leaves Coburn in charge. McQueen quickly seizes control and tells them they have to put out a patrol or the Jerries will know they are under strength. Unfortunately, they try to negotiate a mine field on their patrol that night; Coburn trips a mine and the Germans open up. They find out to their chagrin just where the enemy pillbox is, and another one of them is killed. The others escape, but McQueen, as leader, is up for another court martial, as soon as they get back to the rear.

How Reese behaves after that distressful episode makes for a gripping conclusion and shows the reason why Steve McQueen was such a big star. You won't want to miss "Hell is for Heroes!"

Other fine war movies I recommend include, "Siege of Firebase Gloria", "Platoon", "Walk in the Sun", "Saving Private Ryan", "Zulu", and "They Died With Their Boots On."

Black and white movie fans will also like "Casablanca", "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "My Darling Clementine", and "The Grapes of Wrath".



Recommend this product? Yes

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