10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm sure there are statistics out there somewhere that could verify it, but my guess is that more movies have been done about World War II than any other war. Certainly, if you wanted to come up with a boxed set of movies about the War of 1812, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with one (the only one that comes to mind is The Buccaneer, dealing with Andrew Jackson, Jean Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans). The WWII boxed set, Battlefront Europe, provides a sampling of stories taking place in the European Theater of Operations.
The first two movies in the set (based on when they were made) both deal with the Battle of the Bulge, that last real offensive by the Germans. Battleground is the better of the two, focusing on one group of soldiers involved in a battle that's bigger than they can fully grasp; they just do their part. As in all of these movies, some will live and some will die. The Battle of the Bulge is one of those all-star, big budget epics that Hollywood produced in the late sixties and early seventies (others include A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day) that were often big on spectacle and short on real substance. The Battle of the Bulge has its moments but it is almost too ambitious and makes it seem like Henry Fonda's character was solely responsible for winning the battle (and maybe the war). Other stars include Charles Bronson, Dana Andrews, Telly Savalas and Robert Ryan.
Ryan, Bronson and Savalas would also be in the next movie, the fictional Dirty Dozen, in which Lee Marvin plays a plays-by-his-own-rules major who fashions a team of convicted soldiers to perform a special mission prior to D-Day. If they succeed, they get their freedom. While it is entertaining, it does take a long time to get to the actual mission. On the other hand, in the other truly fictional movie in the set - Where Eagles Dare - the mission kicks in almost immediately. In this movie, Richard Burton leads a small crew of soldiers (including a young Clint Eastwood) on a raid of a German castle where an American general is being held prisoner. There are some twists, however, in exactly what the mission is supposed to accomplish (from a plotting standpoint, this is easily the most sophisticated movie in the set).
Finally, there is The Big Red One, more specifically, the reconstructed version that adds close to an hour to the movie. The title refers to the insignia worn by the soldiers who are the principals in this movie, that of the U.S. 1st Infantry. Lee Marvin plays a grizzled sergeant (and WWI veteran) who leads a group of soldiers in what seems like every major battle in the ETO (as well as North Africa). I have not seen the original version, so I can't fully say whether the longer version is an improvement, but it is a decent movie.
In fact, all of these movies are decent, though not outstanding. I think if you were creating your own boxed set of WWII movies, none of these would make the top five, though not all would miss the cut by much. There are a few extras in the set, including some "making of" features and a commentary on The Big Red One. Overall, I'm rating this four stars: it's worth watching, but it's not the best there is.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I am a big fan of the Big Red One movie with Lee Marvin, and I always knew the movie likely had been editted horribly or cut short for t.v., then I see this movie set with four other movies, good ones, locally for just $20, and yeah, I got lucky at that price, but full price would be okay for this set if one didn't have Battleground like I didn't, nor Eagles Dare, and especially not a reconstructed "Big Rdd One" version which is the shining star of this collection, don't miss out, cause I know what alot of folks think about the horribly editted version of the movie, but this is the restoration, the best they could do with what they had, some stuff from the widow of the director. Remember, Lee Marvin was a WW2 Pacific War veteran who got his foot heel pretty much shot off.
Battleground is a battle of the bulge presentation of the airborne divisions, like "Band of Brothers", but just a movie length early presentation of the US forces of that time, and if I am remembering rightly, seems some real former veterans of that campaign and the airborne divisions were called upon to play in this movie, and I didn't own it previously. An unforgettable scene, "forget what basic training taught you, just shoot back if you can't see them", from the scene where a newer soldier had to just shoot his m1 garand blindly into the treeline, and surprisingly he gets a german who was shooting from cover of darkness. How about the scene where a us soldier is shot and cries "mom, mom", well, a stark reality in wartime for especially young soldiers, they had some shot germans suddenly calling "mutti, mutti"(mother, mother). Battle of the Bulge, a commander inspects a german "sturmgewehr" mp44, the first assault rifle, and comments it hasn't even ever been shot, off a young german likely used as a decoy to be captured.
These are the movies before cgi, and before they had plenty of mock up tanks to look like the real thing, and if they use an m48 tank from the fifties, or captured arab/russian soviet tanks lent by Israel, oh well, at least it aint CGI(computer graphics interface), but the real thing, be thankful, it was a more simple world back then in the 40's to 80's.