Synopsis

During the closing days of WWII, a National Guard Infantry Company is assigned the task of setting up artillery observation posts in a strategic area. Lieutenant Costa knows that Cooney is in command only because of 'connections' he had made state-side. Costa has serious doubts concerning Cooneys' ability to lead the group. When Cooney sends Costa and his men out, and refuses to re-enforce them, Costa swears revenge.

Director

Robert Aldrich

Cast

Jack Palance
as Lt. Joe Costa, Fox Co.
Eddie Albert
as Capt. Erskine Cooney
Lee Marvin
as Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett, CO, White Battalion
Robert Strauss
as Pfc. Bernstein
Richard Jaeckel
as Pvt. Snowden
Buddy Ebsen
as Sfc. Tolliver, Fox Co.
Strother Martin
as Sgt. Ingersol

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 10 /10

A four star war film

Based on a play Fragile Fox that was on Broadway during the early Fifties, Attack is one of the best war films ever made. No sham heroics here, just men doing a dirty job and caught in an extremely lousy situation due to politics.

Lee Marvin is a politically ambitious colonel who's national guard company has been activated for World War II. He's got to babysit and keep an eye on Eddie Albert who's father is a big shot in the unnamed southern state he comes from. Only Albert is an incompetent and a coward. That's causing problems up and down the ranks.

How it all gets resolved is what you have to see Attack for and Robert Aldrich never directed a better film. There's not a bad performance here, not a minute of film wasted.

The contrasting character is Jack Palance who is the lead character. His courage and concern for the men he leads are set up in a direct counterpoint to Albert. His climactic scene is one of the most harrowing ever put on film.

It is appropriate with news of Eddie Albert leaving us at the grand old age of 99 to pay tribute to what is probably the best performance this multi-talented and under-appreciated performer ever did. His Captain Cooney is one of the most malevolent creatures ever put to celluloid. He's such a bad man, his performance will make your skin crawl, Albert is that good in this role. Both he and Palance should have been up for Oscars in 1956.

William Smithers made a good film debut in Attack. He never reached the heights of stardom, but Star Trek fans will know him for a role in the original series as Captain Merik who oddly enough made the same bad choices in that episode that Captain Cooney does in Attack.

The cast is populated with war film veterans and they all do their usual fine job. There were times that it didn't seem possible you could make a war film without Lee Marvin, Robert Strauss, or Richard Jaeckel. God Bless 'em all.

And Attack is a film not to be missed even if you don't particularly like war films.

Reviewed by SgtSlaughter N/A

Fantastic War Movie - No Holds Barred

One of Robert Aldrich's classic war movies explores pyschological pressure and just how war effects men mentally. Even the "good guys" have their bad sides, and the bad guys are so screwed up you either sympathize with them or hate them.

During the fall of 1944, Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert) commands a weary infantry company. Lt. Costa (a young Jack Palance) realizes that Cooney is unfit for command when he freezes in combat. Costa and close friend Lt. Woodruff (Bill Smithers) try to inform their superior, Colonel Bartlett (Lee Marvin sporting a southern drawl) of Cooney's incompetence; instead, White wants to stay out of the way and hopes for the best. He owes Cooney a chance to become a hero so he can look good back home. Well, as you might have expected, Cooney again freezes in combat, this time costing the lives of several of Costa's men - and Costa goes looking for vengeance in an awesome climactic sequence.

The supporting cast is dotted with familiar faces, including Robert Strass from STALAG 17 as an oafish, emotional dogface; the late Buddy Ebsen (BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL) as Costa's loyal platoon sergeant; and Richard Jaeckel (who's appeared in at least a dozen war flicks) as another young soldier. Kudos to Bill Smithers, who does a fantastic job in an early role as Costa's rational friend. His final scene will leave you stunned and reeling.

The movie features a number of memorable scenes which combine physical action, superb dialog and emotion perfectly. One scene in which a mortally wounded Jack Palance prays that God will let him live long enough to kill Cooney is gut-wrenching. Interestingly, both Cooney and Costa have lost their grip on sanity. It's clear from the beginning that Cooney is a whackjob, and Costa is perfectly sane. But he becomes madly (no pun intended) obsessed with killing Cooney, that he forgets everything else - including his own men which is fighting to save. Instead of focusing on thousands of troops and big explosions, Aldrich delivers enough punch in his small-scale story to knock you down. Interiors and exteriors are beautifully shot, confining the action within small spaces to deliver maximum intensity and efficiency.

ATTACK! is an honest film - yes, this type of thing did happen; read or see BAND OF BROTHERS (particularly episode #7) to witness a brutally accurate account of flawed leadership resulting in disaster. I give an 11/10.

Reviewed by ma-cortes 7 /10

Stunning warfare film filled with intense drama , spectacular battles and violent confrontation

Above average war film with Jack Palance's snarling ferocity as a revengeful officer along with Eddie Albert as a coward captain ,both of whom give excellent performances along with the remaining cast . 1944 , Belgium , Battle of Bugle , during the closing days of WWII, a National Guard Infantry Company is assigned the task of setting up artillery observation posts in a strategic area . Lieutenant Costa (splendid Jack Palance as platoon leader) knows that Cooney (Eddie Albert ,in real life he served in WW II, was a war hero, in one engagement having braved heavy enemy fire to rescue 70 wounded Marines) is in command only because of his friendship to a colonel (Lee Marvin) and other connections he had made with High-command . As captain Cooney is ordered to move one of his platoons into a forward position . They , then are slowly surrounded by a Nazi army . As Costa has serious doubts concerning Cooneys' ability to lead the group . Lt. Costa calls headquarters for reinforcements but Cooney won't commit his reserves even as the platoon is decimated , then Costa swears vendetta .

This is a bitter war drama that packs thrills , chills , intense battle of wits among two officials and many other things . This has an anti-war argument , though not the usual 'war is hell,' but the terribly corrupting influence that war can have on the most normal, average human beings , and the terrible things it makes them capable of that they wouldn't be capable of otherwise . Interesting picture with excellent screenplay by James Poe based on a play titled "Fragile Fox" by Norman Brooks , dealing with an expert portrayal of men in war under pressure . It is a war movie as frankly good that when it was shown as the Venice Festival a U.S. ambassador walked in protest for its un-Americanism and anti-patriotism , in fact , US Department of Defense and the US Army refused to assist with the production of this movie based on its film script . After reading the script, the military flatly refused to allow any co-operation with the production , that meant no tanks, no uniforms, no troops ; they didn't even allow director to view any Signal Corps footage . However Aldrich managed to rent two tanks ; by careful staging and ingenuity, he was able to convey the impression that many more were being used . Very good acting from Jack Palance who dominates the picture with a tremendously acting , though sometimes overacting , and Eddie Albert as cowardly captain Cooney who refuses to re-enforce him . Two of the lead cast in this Robert Aldrich war film of the Second World War, Richard Jaeckel and Lee Marvin, would go onto appear in the same director's later hugely successful World War II war movie, ¨Dirty Dozen¨ . Actors Jack Palance and Lee Marvin were veterans of World War II as were Peter van Eyck and Eddie Albert . Feature film movie debut for actor William Smithers portraying Lieutenant Harold 'Harry' Woodruff , Smithers prior to this role had only worked in television. Spectacular combats and fights , battle sequences were filmed on the back-lot of two studios: The RKO-Pathé Studios back-lot and the Universal Studios back-lot. Appropriate and evocative musical score by Frank De Vol , Aldrich's usual . Adequate and atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Joseph Biroc .

Well made on the RKO lot in only 35 days for a minimal budget of $750,000 . The motion picture was stunningly realized by Robert Aldrich who gave a tense and brilliant direction . Aldrich began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, and directed his first feature in 1953 (Big Leaguer ,1953). Soon thereafter he established his own production company and produced most of his own films , collaborating in the writing of many of them . Directed a considerable plethora of genres but almost all of his films contained a subversive undertone . He was an expert on warlike genre (Dirty Dozen , The Angry Hills , Ten seconds to hell) and Western (The Frisko kid , Ulzana's raid, Apache , Veracruz , The last sunset) . Rating : Above average , it's a must see and a standout in its genre .

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