Best War film of the '50s?
TUCO H. | Los Angeles, CA | 09/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anthony Mann's "Men in War," along with Sam Fuller's "Steel Helmet," is the most realistic, tough-as-nails war film made in the '50s. This is ANTYTHING BUT your standard Hollywood treatment. "Men in War," along with Mann's famous Westerns is a demonstration model of the 'vulgar subtlety' with which Mann subverts Hollywood convention to craft a masterpiece. And what can you say about Robert Ryan? Easily one of the greatest actors of all time, and one of the coolest. Ryan OWNS this film like he owned Ophuls' Noir film "Caught," (even outshining James Mason in that one) and Aldo Ray steps up to Ryan's challenge with a truly phenomenal performance. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
A Stark, Unflinching War Drama
mackjay | Cambridge, MA | 08/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Men in War" makes one wish Anthony Mann had directed more war films. This is an excellent, character-driven story. It is a prime example of the mature, unflinching kind of war film that began to appear after the Korean conflict. Undeservedly neglected, this picture ranks with Lewis Milestone's "Pork Chop Hill" and Robert Aldrich's "Attack". And it is the progenitor of "Platoon" and "The Thin Red Line". with their complex characters and situations.Every actor seems to give his best, with exceptional moments from Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray and Robert Keith, as a shell-shocked Colonel. And it is always good to see the admirable Pine, Morrow, Persoff and Edwards. The film has a stark, yet pleasing black & white look which is appropriate for the bare bones conflicts the story sets forth. Moreover, "Men in War" features a very fine score by Elmer Bernstein, utilizing an authentic Korean folk song."
"Sick?!? In this war you're either healthy or dead."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 12/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Korea. September 6, 1950. Lt. Benson (Robert Ryan) has one objective: to get what's left of his platoon out of this bloody mess alive. The rest of the army has retreated and Benson's platoon is now cut off from communication and surrounded by an unseen enemy that lurks in the trees and bushes. Benson keeps on trying to reach HQ by radio, but they get no answer. Because HQ no longer exist. Battalion doesn't exist. Regiment doesn't exist. Division doesn't exist. The USA doesn't exist. The only thing that's real to these doomed men is the hellish situation they're faced with. They know that they really don't have a chance of surviving, but they refuse to give up hope.
Their truck is busted, so they have to carry their own ammunition and supplies on their backs. But out of nowhere a U.S. jeep appears with two soldiers, one a shell-shocked colonel (Robert Keith), and the other a sergeant (Aldo Ray) who's dedicated to protecting his beloved colonel at all costs. Benson commandeers the jeep by force and uses it to haul the platoon's ammo, and the colonel and sergeant come along "for the ride." It isn't long before Benson realizes that the sergeant is an experienced combat veteran who seems to know all the tricks of the clever North Korean enemy, so he uses the sergeant to help him get his men back to American lines.
But when they come to their destination (after losing a few men to snipers, artillery, and landmines), Hill 465, they discover that it's no longer occupied by U.S. forces. Instead, the North Koreans are well entrenched and have several bunkers with multiple machine-guns. At this point, Benson has just 12 men left, and the only way to reach the American lines is to go straight through the entrenched Koreans. So he orders a suicidal frontal assault and throws everything he's got at the hill. Even the colonel and sergeant join in the assault, as it quickly becomes obvious that the only way they'll make it out alive is to work together to blow up the enemy bunkers.
1957`s "Men in War" was directed by Anthony Mann, a legendary director who could do wonders with a low budget. Already a master at film noir and psychological westerns, he also proved to be quite gifted at making a war movie. "Men in War" is very grim and has strong noir overtones. In fact, the Film Noir Bible ranks it as #55 in it's list of the most significant noir films of all time. The only thing I'd change is the ridiculous song that's played at the end, but otherwise this is a near-flawless classic, with great performances from Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray. Recently released at a bargain price from Geneon Entertainment, the picture quality is superb. The audio has some background noise in some places but is mostly excellent. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features, not even scene selection. There isn't even a menu. Still, at this low price I can't complain much. If you enjoy war movies then you'll definitely want to add this gem to your collection."
Men in War - Cult War Classic and Psycho-Drama
Jack Smith | WA US | 03/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Men in War" may just be the best pschological study of combat ever made and should be considered a cult classic (and probably is) even if it is a cult of one. Anyone who claims this is a "Standard war film set in Korea" might also claim "The God Father" was a standard gangster movie or "The Wizard of OZ" was a standard children's flick. "Men in War" is a concise, classic study of combat that just happens to be set in the Korean War. Anthony Mann's direction impacts every aspect of humanity subjected to sustained combat. Amid the horror we see from the all-but-doomed patrol kindness, depravity, valor, self-interest, despair, hope, and, finally, relief without joy. In short we see how desperation exponentializes human emotion. The unusual camera angles give it a Film Noir "look" that highlights the conflicts and tragedies played out by the forlorn platoon. Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray are the perfect dueling co-protagonists who show that our toughest fights are not always with the ones defined as the enemy. The movie is all very real, all real personal, and all very difficult to watch sometimes because of the graphic truths, not the least of which is the insight into the final thoughts of several doomed souls. There is no going back with this film. Once you watch it you are hooked. It would be best for some esteemed critics to actually watch it once before reviewing it."