They were misfits, rebels and heroes. Oscar(r) winners* William Holden and Cliff Robertsontopline this riveting World War II saga based on the true story of the First Special Service Force.Capturing the drama of combat wit... more »h "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."« less
Finally gets Deserved Homage on this Indelible DVD
hille2000 | USA | 12/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the time of the release of THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE it was unfairly compared to THE DIRTY DOZEN as being another copycat in the same genre. That was both inaccurate and unfortunate. THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE is a great film and an entity unto itself. The only similarity between the two films is the use of Army convicts to develop what would now be called a 'special forces' unit. The similarities end there. Robert Aldrich tries to imitate John Ford's directorial style with only partial success in THE DIRTY DOZEN. Aldrich tries to go for a type of realism throughout his film and doesn't really seem to know how to manage the fine balance between comic relief and drama. In THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE Andrew V. McLaglen certainly knows when to play it straight and when to lay on the heavy-handed comedy that was a John Ford trademark. John Ford no doubt influenced Andrew V. McLaglen the son of Victor McLaglen. Victor McLaglen was one of John Ford's favorite actors and was one of many influenced by this great director. The bawdy humor in THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE prepares us for the emotionally charged final confrontation with the Germans and makes the carnage all the more real for the viewer. There is exceptionally great depth to all the characters in THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE and McLaglen builds real camaraderie between them. The dialogue is very engaging with its shear magnetism and is never cynical. When these guys fight, kill and die in combat we really feel for them. We cheer them on and we cry when they fall. There is more than just the mission at stake. There are lives on the line. Lives that we grew to like and feel for. The final mission is just not a little sortie to attack a Nazi stronghold on a hillside precipice. It is an assault, which breaks out into a full-scale battle with deadly hand-to-hand combat and feats of genuine heroism. William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Claude Akins, Richard Jaeckel, Andrew Prine, Jeremy Slate, Jack Watson, Michael Rennie and Carroll O'Connor are all excellent in their roles. Alex North's fine score and theme have also never been given their due. This is a strong film that examines friendship, camaraderie, and teamwork. Its message is not one of cynicism but the good that can be found in the human spirit. You just have to stand up and cheer for this should-be-classic. Seeing this film's images in widescreen after all these years gives it even greater depth and shows how well a craftsman Andrew V. McLaglen really was. There are just so many scenes that have multiple images going on simultaneously that add richness and texture to the legend of these unsung heroes. My heart really goes out to this film and to the human spirit of the men that it eloquently captures so effortlessly but so indelibly. This is one of my favorite films of all time."
There's a lot of truth between the fiction
Eric Howard | kansas city, mo. United States | 12/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fact based WW2 film is one of the great whip 'em into shape movies. When the call went out for U.S. and Canadian volunteers for a commando unit many commanders used this as a oppurtunity to unload their trouble makers. Choir boys don't make good commandos so the right men were available for the job. This film shows the tough training that these men endured including skiing, mountain warfare and advanced hand to hand combat. I've read a few books on these men and the film accurately potrays the bonding developed between the US and Canadians as they teamed up in the local bars to fight lumberjacks and miners. After their harsh training the force is sent to Italy. The film makes no mention that the force's first mission was against the Japanese in the Aluetion Islands. The climax of the film is an assault on a mountain top in Italy. These scences are so well done that when I attended the USMC mountain warfare school at Bridgeport CA. they used this clip as a training tool. The film has a great soundtrack and lots of hero type actors. Just one problem-where did those red berets come from? Read the 2001 published book, "The Black Devil Brigade" told by the men themselves."
A darned good war flick about special ops.
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 06/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"William Holden, Cliff Robertson, and Vince Edwards turn in their customary fine performances in this excellent story about one of the early Special Operations units. The storyline is simple enough. A Special Ops unit is formed for a specific mission in Norway (the mission is eventually changed. Nice bit part by Michael Rennie as General Mark Clark). For reasons I was never quite clear on, the unit is comprised of equal parts of American misfits and Canadian elite troops. (This is said to be historically accurate). My favorite part of the movie is the interaction between the American rogues and the more cultured, but equally tough, Canadian troops. There are some hilarious scenes that take place during pre-combat training which show how the unit gelled together into an elite force.The action scenes are very well done, and the attitude of the regular army units towards the unconventional Special Ops unit is true-to-life. Special Ops units have traditionally, at least until recently, been the orphans of the army, and that is brought out very well in this fine movie.If you like a straightforward, well-acted war movie, this is one of the better ones."
One of the Elite units of WWII
7th Cav Trooper | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is about one of the elite units of WWII, a unit that is part of the lineage of modern day Special Operations. The film does a very good job of depicting the main points of the birth of this unit and some of the trials and tribulations that it had to go through. The film is historically accurate in the depiction of the undesireable soldiers that the United States contributed to the unit and the better trained Canadians. This film does an excellent job of showing how Special Operations units are unappreciated by the main stream military brass. Having served in the United States Army Special Forces for 5 years, I know how hard it can be to depict special operations capabilities in such a short movie. Again, this film hits the high points and is entertaining. It is a must see for any war movie buff and especially any student of special operations history."
When Movies Were Movies
7th Cav Trooper | Sunny California | 05/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just bought this old classic on DVD. Why can't they make movies like this anymore? The answer...because there aren't actors like William Holden, Claude Akins, Richard Jaekel and Jack Watson around anymore. The Devil's Brigade is a true story which accurately depicts the camaraderie all fighting men develop. It's great to see some real machismo stuff and not feminist, PC nonsense were subjected to nowadays. The real men of the Devil's Brigade helped save the world 60 years ago."