Archive for July 25, 2020

Red Frag

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2020 by dcairns

ATTACK, or, according to the title sequence on my DVD, “ATTACK”, but also known in some territories at some times under the infinitely preferable ATTACK!, is a Robert Aldrich WWII pic which gets namechecked in the Bordwell-Thompson Film History: An Introduction which I just picked up for a song now that a few of Edinburgh’s charity shops have reopened, right next to KISS ME DEADLY (which, according to its own title sequence may actually be called DEADLY KISS ME). If that isn’t a recommendation, I figured, what is?

And indeed, some of the same pulpy energy is present, plus a Fullerseque sensorial assault, tabloid gonzo raving and sweaty manliness… the titles start as a slain grunt’s helmet bounces down a hill, coming to rest by a pretty flower. “You see the symbolism of it?”

The story plays out a lot like CROSS OF IRON, with Eddie Albert as coward/incompetent/psycho and Jack Palance as his opponent on the same side. While the Peckinpah is bold in telling the story from the German side, it’s MUCH braver to have an American officer as coward/idiot/maniac who needs to be snuffed for the sake of the war effort.

A typically, um, muscular perf from JP: at one point, having been shot in the leg and parked on by a tank, he slumps against a wall and raises himself up it, inch by inch, using only his head and neck. Meryl Streep can’t do that.

Greasy streak on wall from previous takes.

There’s also some backstage politics with Lee Marvin’s colonel protecting Albert’s captain due to personal connections back home in the South. It’s quite a good film to watch right now, since the southerners are the baddies. Feels timely.

Any consideration of Aldrich as a major figure, I find, has to reckon with the animated blood splash in THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, a bit of cinematic “technique” that might otherwise mark him out as an utter clown. I feel like I need solid proof that wasn’t his idea. But this grimy potboiler does indeed have much of the same pulp frenzy as his Spillane adaptation. “Overwrought” doesn’t begin to cover it, but even with bum notes like Frank De Vol’s score playing Deutschland Uber Alles when the Germans appear, and an off-key London Bridge is Falling Down when Albert loses all the marbles, it’s quite bold politically and punchy as hell.

ATTACK! features Jesus Raza; Warden Barrot; Irving Radovich; Liberty Valance; Sgt. Stanislaus ‘Animal’ Kuzawa; Sheriff Kip McKinney; Jed Clampett; Hans-Dieter Mundt; Dr. Rudolph Frankenstein; Goff; & Coffer.