War is heck

ANZIO (1968) reunites Edward Dmytryk, director, and Roberts Mitchum and Ryan, stars, from CROSSFIRE (1947), after they’ve all passed a lot of water, some of it 40% proof.

It’s a big De Laurentiis joint. It starts with a ghastly Jack Jones love song, just to kill any authenticity of period or tonal logic before it can get started, and all through the credits the titles are playing peekaboo behind walls and columns, because apparently somebody’s seen ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and decided this is the way forward.

Arthur Kennedy and Robert Ryan slide shyly from behind a marble knee. It’s like watching the art of cinema crumble before your eyes.

Once the movie gets going it’s just bloated and dumb. Mitchum plays a journalist but he seems to give all the orders, because in this kind of picture dialogue = orders and they feel they have to let the star say SOMETHING.

Of the enlisted men, only Peter Falk makes an impression, but admittedly it’s a larger-than-life one. Dmytryk appears to have turned him loose, even let him improvise a whole scene with three Italian sex workers in an ambulance (not as racy as it sounds, Mrs. Columbo need not be concerned).

There’s one startling, bloody death — not by blood capsule, I think, more like a paint-filled hosepipe up the trouser leg. It’s a well-staged surprise, placed deliberately late in the story so the kids will be in bed by the time it airs on TV, I reckon. War can be hell, but only after the watershed.

ANZIO stars Max Cady; Maximilian Meen; Smith Ohlrig; Mingo; Johnny Ringo; Branwell Brontë; Carlos Rodriguez; Rene Mathis; Lintom Busotsky; the Marquis de Sade; The Baron; Sen. Oscar Anderson; and Dr. Mabuse.

6 Responses to “War is heck”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Peter Falk was always larger-than-life. I had the great pleasure of interviewing him at his home here in L.A. when “Wings of Desire” came out. The Peter Falk you see on screen and the Peter Falk in “real life” are exactly the same. He was an enormously lively and engaging guy. No wonder John Cassavetes and Elaine May loved him so much.

  2. chris schneider Says:

    “Where have you gone, you bright-eyed gentle dreamer?”
    ~ from the Doc Pomus lyric sung by Jack Jones

    I was going to say, from the title “The World Is Yours,” that perhaps the song was dealing ironically with imperialism and land-grabbing. But it sounds quite dreadful. Just the thing to lure in those 1968 flower-children who are already interested in watching paunchy white actors recreate battles from 20 years ago.

    The lyricist, who shoulda known better, is the same Pomus who wrote “Save the Last Dance For Me” and “Hushabye,” as well as songs for Altman’s SHORT CUTS. The composer is the same Riz Ortolani who wrote “More.”

  3. Falk apparently rewrote his own dialogue after threatening to quit.

    The song is dire, and Riz Ortolani hasn’t, it seems, read the script, so he smothers everything in romantic uplift even when the characters are attempting to sound world-weary and embittered.

  4. I’ve always been a big fan of Mitchum but this does not sound like his best work. Haha. I guess I’ll skip it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mitchum is surprisingly fine in it, but doesn’t get much opportunity to be interesting. He jumps into the physical side with conviction.

  6. ehrenstein47 Says:

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