Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Merrill's Marauders

Hyökkäys Burmassa / Attack i Burma. US © 1962 United States Productions. P: Milton Sperling. D: Samuel Fuller. SC: Milton Sperling, Samuel Fuller – based on the novel The Marauders (1959) by Charlton Ogburn, Jr. Ass D: William Kissel. DP: William Clothier; second unit: Higino J. Fallorina. FX: Ralph Ayres. Make-up: Gordon Bau. M: Howard Jackson. S: Francis M. Stahl. ED: Folmar Blangsted. Technical advisor: lieutenant colonel Samuel Wilson. Loc: The Philippines. Cast: Jeff Chandler (brigadier general Frank Merrill), Ty Hardin (lieutenant Lee Stockton), Peter Brown (Bullseye), Andrew Duggan (major George "Doc" Nemeny), Will Hutchins (Chowhound), Claude Akins (sergeant Kolowicz), Luz Valdez (Burmese girl), John Hoyt (general Joseph W. Stilwell), Charles Briggs (Muley), Chuck Roberson, Chuck Hayward (officers), Jack Williams (medic), Chuck Hicks (corporal Doskis), Vaughan Wilson (lieutenant colonel Bannister), Pancho Magalona (Taggy). 98 min. A vintage Technicolor print from Classic Films viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 1 Dec 2010.

Revisited: Merrill's Marauders which has the most authentic look of grandeur and devastation of all Samuel Fuller's war films, shot in the Philippines with access to 12.000 real soldiers with jungle experience and the cooperation of the U.S. and Philippine defense forces.

Based on the true story in which the strategic mission is to prevent Japanese troops from getting in touch with the German ones in the Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theater of World War II. The mission is entrusted to a long range penetration special forces unit which is first led to believe that they have only one strategic target to conquer, but instead there are five, such as Walawbum, Shaduzup, and Myitkyina. The jungles, the swamps and the mountains are overwhelming. Besides enemy snipers they face malaria, hunger, exhaustion, and mental breakdown. The jungle becomes a field of massive slaughter. Centrally, the story is about a tragedy of leadership. General Merrill knows he is wasting most of his 3000 men in the overwhelming campaign. He himself is among the casualties.

Fuller's film is a tribute to the endurance of the soldiers. It is not really an ensemble piece like Fuller's other war films. It is rather the story of a collective where we hardly get to know the fighters as individuals.The film is not based on an identification strategy. Rather it is a work of epic theatre.

The physical realism of the film is impressive, and it was a privilege to see this rare vintage Technicolor print with a feeling of authentic colour.

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