Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jack Palance, Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin, Robert Strauss, Richard Jaeckel, Buddy Ebsen, Jon Shepodd, Peter van Eyck, Jim Goodwin, Steven Geray, Jud Taylor, Louis Mercier, Henry Rowland, Mike Ragan, Ron McNeil, Strother Martin, Leonard Bremen, William Smithers
Written by: James Poe, based on a play by Norman Brooks
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 107
Date: 10/17/1956

Attack! (1956)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

High Coward

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The great, tough Robert Aldrich, with his harsh black-and-white, edgy frames, and stark close-ups, takes on a play by Norman Brooks (originally titled Fragile Fox) and turns it into a ferocious portrait of men under pressure, whose worst enemy is cowardice. Lieutenant Costa (Jack Palance) watches good men die trying to take a pillbox on a hill, all because Captain Cooney (Eddie Albert) was too scared to send in reinforcements. Lt. Harry Woodruff (William Smithers) tries to speak to Lieutenant Colonel Bartlett (Lee Marvin) about the problem, but Cooney is protected by high-powered connections. Besides, the war is almost over! What could go wrong. Of course, the men are ordered to take a small village, and Cooney orders them to take it in the most dangerous, reckless way, offering assistance that — of course — will never come. And Costa vows his revenge. Buddy Ebsen (later of TV's The Beverly Hillbillies) co-stars as Sergeant First Class Tolliver, Costa's trusted right-hand man. Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke) is a sergeant, and Peter van Eyck (of Orson Welles's Mr. Arkadin) is an SS Captain. Kino Lorber released it on a crackerjack Blu-ray in 2020, with a collection of trailers for this another Aldrich films.

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