Attack! (1956)

Free Great Movies Review

  •  (4 out of 5 stars)

Robert Aldrich directed this hard-nosed war drama about a feuding World War II army unit. Jack Palance plays the tough Lieutenant Joe Costa who has issues with his commanding officer Captain Erskine Cooney (Eddie Albert). Cooney is a cowardly drunkard who often refuses to fight (ironically actor Eddie Albert was actually a decorated World War II hero). Despite Cooney's cowardice, his superior Lieutenant Colonel Clyde Bartlett (Lee Marvin) refuses to reassign him for his own selfish reasons. The movie is based on the stage play Fragile Fox by Norman Brooks, and probably due to the depictions of army insubordination, the army refused to cooperate with the production. The film is hardly your average anti-war picture though, showcasing courage and heroism alongside cowardice and even mental illness. It's hard to say what exactly the message is in the end, other than war is hell and it creates horrible moral dilemmas even among one's own ranks. It certainly makes for tense drama though, especially with outstanding performances from Jack Palance and Lee Marvin. Between the dramatic scenes, there are some gritty action set pieces fighting Nazis. The film definitely had an influence on future war movies like Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Full Metal Jacket (1987) (Kubrick seems to have borrowed his famous sniper scene from Attack!).

(Summary from Wikipedia)