- 1 hr 47 min
In the 1956 war drama Attack!, directed by Robert Aldrich, the story is set during World War II and focuses on a group of American soldiers trapped in a small Flemish town in Belgium. After discovering that their commanding officer, Lieutenant Costa (Jack Palance), is a coward, the men find themselves leaderless and fighting their way out of the town against an overwhelming German force. The majority of the film takes place over the course of one day, as the soldiers attempt to defend the town against the Germans. Eddie Albert stars as Lieutenant Joe Costa, an officer with more heart than experience who must rally his men in the midst of battle. Lee Marvin plays Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett, a contemptible officer who prioritizes his own safety above that of his men. The movie is effective because of its intense emotional impact, as it depicts the horrors of war and the relationships forged between soldiers. There are moments of genuine suspense, as the soldiers are forced to improvise and adapt to the constantly changing battlefield. The film also does an excellent job of illustrating the psychological toll that war takes on people, with scenes of soldiers breaking down emotionally and mentally amidst the chaos. Attack! features several standout performances, notably Palance's portrayal of a cowardly officer struggling to confront his fear, and Marvin's turn as a despicable commander who reveals his true nature in the face of danger. Eddie Albert is also memorable as a sympathetic officer who gradually learns to become a true leader. The film's cinematography is striking, particularly in its use of low-angle shots to emphasize the power dynamics at play between the officers and soldiers. The stark, black-and-white visuals serve to underscore the bleakness of war and the futility of senseless violence. One of the most memorable aspects of Attack! is its unflinching depiction of the brutality of war. The film's violence is harshly realistic and unrelenting, showing soldiers falling in gruesome, bloody deaths. The story doesn't hesitate in showing instances of cruelty and the lack of reverence for human life, aspects that took audiences by surprise at the time of the film's release. At the time of its release, Attack! was seen as a controversial and daring film, as it was one of the first movies to show the harsh realities of war in such an unflinching manner. It was particularly noteworthy for addressing the mistreatment of soldiers by their superiors and was applauded for its anti-war stance. Though the film is not without flaws and has some outdated elements, particularly in its portrayal of women, it is still considered an important work in the war movie genre. It is a powerful, thought-provoking look at the cost of war and the human toll that conflict can take. The movie is a worthy addition to any collection and provides an interesting glimpse into the historical context of the time it was released. Overall, Attack! is a gripping, intense war movie that will leave a lasting impact on viewers. Its focus on character, its effectiveness in crafting suspenseful set pieces, and its stark, realistic depiction of violence make it a powerful film that continues to resonate with audiences today.