THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
The late-sixties were the last years for a few decades when truly
patriotic war movies could draw audiences. Within a couple of years
films like Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, and Midnight
Cowboy would usher in a new kind of masculinity (as well as new
levels of ratings permissiveness) that would make a film like The
Devil's Brigade look positively old-fashioned. The story, about a
Lieutenant Colonel (William Holden) who's been forced to whip a combined
unit of elite Canadian soldiers and confrontational American
knuckleheads into shape before their time to serve in World War II
arrives, offers an opportunity for some interesting reflections on the
way men treat each other. Still, the film is filled with every cliche
the war movie book: The men are hateful towards each other at first,
then find themselves joining forces in a drunken barroom brawl, and
eventually find equal ground and dignity in collaboration. The film
doesn't aim for the complexity of a masterpiece like The Bridge on
the River Kwai, and is happy just to show off it's "based on a true
story" pedigree. But if Americans and Canadians being able to overcome
their differences and get along is something to brag about then we're
in trouble. Still, The
Devil's Brigade is a solid war movie. The characters are pretty standard rough-around-the-edges goons who
get whipped into shape, but the dialog is snappy and the story, which documents the formation of the first
Special Forces Unit, is worthwhile. William Holden is, as always, excellent and the cast of soldiers, both on the American and Canadian sides, is filled with fine performances. Despite the fact that the film follows several decades filled with just this sort of film it still manages to rouse the audience's sense of patriotism.
The widescreen video looks quite good. It's not anamorphic for some reason, but the elements are in reasonably good shape for a film of this age and the transfer has been handled well.
The 2.0 mono track is quite good, with clear dialog, bold musical score, and good atmosphere. The disc also
includes French and Spanish 2.0 mono tracks, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
A Trailer is included.
Not as original as the best war films, The Devil's Brigade is a fine film with strong performances
and a good, patriotic tone. With all the uncertainty of war, there's strength in teamwork and The Devil's
Brigade shows soldiers under some of the worst conditions learning how to function at their best.
Email Gil Jawetz at email@example.com