Classic DVD Review: ANZIO(1968)

Film legend Robert Mitchum stars as a war correspondent who is doing a story on a group of U.S. Army Rangers involved in the ill-fated disastrous beachhead at Anzio, Italy. Besides Mitchum, ANZIO is a significant film because it is a Dino De Laurentiis production, giving a glimpse into future projects that this film producer would make in future years.

Admittedly, ANZIO is a good, but flawed war film. The motion picture score is uninspired and hardly fits, especially the main title. And actor Peter Falk reportedly wanted to leave the production because he was so unhappy at the script, which he was given the opportunity to rewrite if he would stay. Despite, these problems the film was actually made.

ANZIO was the subject of some mixed reviews by both critics and audiences alike. But, looking back on the film, some like Roger Ebert find the film to be an “intelligent” war movie. And seeing great legends such as Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk or Robert Ryan at work in a film is always something to behold. All three are great actors.

As a war story, the disaster at ANZIO is a story that needed to be told. Allied forces suffered terrible losses at what they believed was a weakness in Europe to fight back toward Germany. But, Germany was quickly able to round up heavy tanks and cannons to pound the allies from mountain or hill vantage points. Operation Shingle in January 1944 initially involved 36,000 soldiers and 2,100 vehicles, however heavy losses from combined German and Italian battalions forced American, British and Canadian forces to up their strength to 150,000 troops by May. Dino De Laurentiis’s vision of this battle seems a little bit low scale. Yet, the film is good enough as a war drama to recommend.

The disaster at ANZIO acted as a dress rehearsal for the much larger D Day months later, where much more planning, men and equipment were used to make this campaign much more successful.

The Bottom Line: Another respectable film from Robert Mitchum as well as Dino De Laurentiis. +++(Three stars, good. If you love classic war films, your library deserves to add this film).

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