Sullivan's Marauders / Himmelfahrtskommando El Alamein / Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern
Italy/West Germany 1968
Alfonso Sansone, Artur Brauner for G.G.I., PIC (= Produzione Intercontinentale Cinematografica), CCC-Filmkunst
directed by Armando Crispino
starring Lee Van Cleef, Jack Kelly, Giampiero Albertini, Marino Masé, Götz George, Pier Paolo Capponi, Ivano Staccioli, Marilù Tolo, Joachim Fuchsberger, Heinz Reincke, Helmut Schmid, Otto Stern, Pier Luigi Anchisi, Gianni Brezza, Duilio Del Prete, Emilio Marchesini, Biagio Pelligra, Lorenzo Piani, Giacomo Piperno, Romano Puppo, Franco Cobianchi, Mario Feriazzo, Mauro Lumachi, Gianni Pulone, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia
screenplay by Lucio Battistrada, Armando Crispino, Stefano Strucchi, Dario Argento, screen story by Don Martin, Artur Brauner, based on a short story by Menahem Golan, music by Mario Nascimbene
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1942, the North African desert, the eve of the landing of the Allied
Forces: Sgt. Sullivan (lee Van Cleef) and his marauders are supposed to
take over an Italian outpost and pose as Italians to fool the Germans who
are stationed nearby, until the Allieds arrive in full force. Now this
alone sounds hard enough, and it certainly isn't made any easier by the
fact that pretty much at the last minute the command of the platoon is
transferred to Captain Valli (Paul Kelly), a man with hardly any
battlefield experience, whose commands Sullivan distrusts from minute one.
However, the marauders successfully overrun the outpost, but that's
when the problems start as Valli - against orders from headquarters -
refuses to have all the enemies shot, instead takes a handful of
prisoners, including the outpost's Lieutnant Tomassini (Marino Masé) -
which in hindsight proves to be a stroke of luck when the next evening a
delegation of the German outpost comes for a visit, and by having
Tomassini's soldiers as hostages they can force him to play the perfec
Still, Sullivan is not convinced that it is wise to leave the Italians
alive, and ultimately he should be proved right when they make a getaway.
Sure most of them are shot dead, but Tomassini himself manages to make
good an escape and get through to the Germans.
Meanwhile, Valli, Sullivan and his marauders learn that their mission
has been aborted ... aborted way too late and after quite some losses, but
aborted nevertheless, so the men prepare to leave ... when the Germans
The final battle is fought with evry weapon available, and proves to be
excrutiable for both sides - actually in the end only one German and one
American soldier survive - and they throw away their weapons to tend to
their deads together.
Both Götz George and Joachim Fuchsberger play German lieutnants.
Quite an interesting war movie that does not go the easy way and take
sides of either the Americans or the Italians or the Germans but instead
tells a story about the inhumanity of war, no matter which side you are on
- however, the film stays clear of being an annoying message movie
and packs its subtext into plenty of action, made primarily to entertain
its audience. That's not to say that Commandos is a masterpiece,
the timing is at times sadly off, the battlescenes could have done with a
bit more effort, and a higher budget would not have hurt the film ... but
all that said, Commandos is still a pretty interesting and
entertaining warfilm that looks at things from a slightly different - and
more differentiated - perspective.