Attack! (1956)



During the Battle of the Bulge, an incompetent Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert), has daddy issues and feels he needs to prove himself, even if it goes again conventional, and better, judgement.  His buddy, Lt. Colonol Bartlett (Lee Marvin), manipulates Cooney for his own gain.  Caught in the middle is Lt. Joe Costa (Jack Palance), his second in command Sfc. Tolliver (Buddy Ebsen), and their battalion, with Pfc. Bernstein (Robert Strauss).

Holy cow there’s a lot of name recognition in this film.  Most of these men made a bigger name for themselves in the years following Attack!’s release, but here we have a film where each character plays their part and they all mesh and work well together.

Shot in the 1950s, this film did not receive the cooperation of the US Defense Department, in large part because of its portrayal of certain officers in World War II.  Even though it’s an ugly side of the war: soldiers being used as pawns by incompetent commanders, it’s still a side of war that exists.  It certainly is not something that should be overlooked.

I was disappointed that Lee Marvin was an all-talk character, not going to the front lines, but he was a manipulator, and higher up, so it makes sense.

The real star of this film without any doubt is Jack Palance.  Though he would have to wait another 35 years to receive his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in City Slickers, Palance shows his versatility and strong stage presence in Attack! 

robertstrauss Robert Strauss, a familiar face from Stalag 17.

epsen  Oh hey it’s Buddy Ebsen, aka Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies.

This film was enjoyable, but one of the unfortunate pitfalls about this project is that a lot of films set in the same time period all tend to mesh together and seem the same.  Each one has its own merits, and I know the reviews stay pretty spread out, but they seem to deal with very similar conflicts, and in the case of this film, I’ve seen a number of the actors in other films like this.  Perhaps I’m just impatient or getting bored seeing such similar stories.

Attack! benefits from a cast that is familiar and talented with this type of film.  However, having this type of ensemble cast can make it seems very similar to many other films in the genre.  I’m glad I watched it, but probably won’t watch it again.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.


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