Fixed Bayonets!

1951

Action / Drama / War

2
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 68%
IMDb Rating 7 10 1373

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

James Dean as Doggie
Paul Richards as Ramirez
Richard Basehart as Cpl. Denno
Joe Turkel as Soldier
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
647.13 MB
956*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 32 min
P/S 0 / 4
1.37 GB
1424*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 32 min
P/S 1 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Spikeopath 8 / 10

There's nothing dirtier than a rearguard action!

Fixed bayonets! is directed by Sam Fuller and Fuller writes the screenplay which is based around a novel by John Brophy. It stars Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, Michael O'Shea, Richard Hylton, Craig Hill and Skip Homeier. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Lucien Ballard.

The Korean War, and a platoon of GIs are tasked with diverting the enemy to allow the command units time to regroup and prepare for a counter attack.

"Somebody's got to get left behind, get their bayonets wet. It's tough picking out an outfit, but it's got to be picked"

Samuel Fuller was a real life infantryman combat veteran of WWII, so any time he chose to direct a war film it was time to sit up and take notice, Fixed bayonets! finds him in prime form. All his great traits are here, how things are so understated yet so potent, how his characters are stripped to a very real human form, there's no fuss, filler or pointless flab here. Every line of dialogue and the various combat scenarios positively beg our utmost attention, so as to get some sort of feel as to just what it must have been like in war.

Plot revolves around 48 men holding a rearguard action so as to give 15,000 others a break. The odds aren't really in their favour, because not only do they have to face the oncoming enemy and all their numbers, but they have to battle the terrain, for they are up in the snowy mountains, the harsh coldness a fitting accompaniment to the psychological pangs at work in the platoon. The main narrative thread is based around Basehart's Cpl. Denno, who has trouble shooting an enemy soldier, which is not great since there's a very real chance he may soon have to take command. Ouch! The pressure of impending command...

Combat action scenes are thrilling, artillery warfare in the snow constructed with skillful thought. While this wouldn't be a Fuller film without some edge of seat drama, with the stand out here a breath holding sequence of events in a minefield. Tech guys come up trumps, the sound mix is bang on (a haunting cacophony of Asian bugles really rattles the head), Ballard's black and white photography is crisp and captures the pending peril vibe suitably, and Webb's musical compositions are unobtrusive and rightly keeping focus on the human drama.

A lesson in being simple yet so potently effective, Fuller on blob. 8/10

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 5 / 10

Simplistic Korean war film

FIXED BAYONETS! is an American-made Korean war movie about a platoon of soldiers who agree to fight a desperate rearguard action to hold off enemy troops to allow the rest of the army to depart from the area. The majority of the running time sees said platoon holed up in an icy cave and struggling to cope with everything the enemy throws at them.

This is a simply-plotted film without much in the way of characterisation, although the action scenes are well handled and emphasis suspense over effects, which is always good. Richard Basehart plays the sweating corporal who discovers himself inching nearer and nearer to command as each of his superiors is killed in turn by the fighting. It's this internal conflict which propels the story but I did find it largely stretched out and uninteresting. The camaraderie and dialogue scenes are well handled however and the humour is a welcome asset. Watch out for James Dean in a cameo role.

Reviewed by robert-temple-1 6 / 10

Low budget Korean War film about a struggle against the odds

Samuel Fuller had fought in the Second World War and put his field experience to good use in directing this low budget film set in Korea during the Korean War. The story is simple. A major general in charge of an American division is forced to order a tactical retreat of his division across the only existing bridge over a major river, which he will then blow up behind him. In order to avoid the enemy massacring his 15,000 troops as they slowly make their way across that choke-point, the general decides to leave a small platoon of 48 soldiers behind, commanded only by a lieutenant, to make a lot of noise and fire a lot of weapons so that the enemy will not know for some time that the division has pulled out. This platoon, known as a 'rear guard', will thus buy time for the division, and then they can follow after a certain number of days, if they can. The action is set in the snow-covered and freezing mountain environment of that terrible war. (A friend who fought in it told me the worst thing was the cold, far worse than the fighting.) The action of the film is thus circumscribed within this narrow story, in a small mountain pass where 48 men face an entire enemy division complete with artillery. Richard Basehart plays a corporal who, as fourth in line of command, ends up becoming the commander of the platoon when the three men outranking him are all killed. He has an inner struggle about responsibility, and that part of the film is a psychological profile of a man who fears command and also cannot bring himself to fire a gun at another human being. So Fuller is driving home some important truths about what war really involves, namely killing people (a point often forgotten by politicians in their bubbles!) There is a tense scene where Basehart has to walk into a minefield to rescue someone, trying to feel gently through the snow with his boots where the mines might be. (The medic who had proceeded him in this effort had already been blown up by a mine.) I had a friend named Michael Scott who during the Second World War went into a minefield to save his friend Carlos Blacker, and lost an eye, so I have heard some first-hand accounts of this tricky subject. Early on in the film, when the enemy are firing artillery at the platoon, they blast away at a cliff and a rock-fall reveals a handy cave, in which the platoon is able to shelter from the cannon fire. I winced as I saw the soldiers knocking the stalagtites down inside the cave, despite one of the soldiers saying it had taken 2000 years for them to form. I know it was only a set, but the idea of damaged stalagtites offends my geological sense of the proprieties. This film was 'suggested by' a novel by the British author John Brophy. Brophy was from Liverpool, who also wrote a novel and screenplay for the film entitled WATERFRONT (1950), which tells a tragic tale of the Liverpool slums, from which Brophy presumably came himself. There is some good acting and a lot of grit in this simple war film, which concentrates on this small body of men and their struggle against the odds. The film has been restored and included in the 'Maters of Cinema' series on Blu-Ray, as part of the current revival of the films of Samuel Fuller, whose PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) is probably his best known film. I need hardly point out that 'fixed bayonets' refers to the time when close combat is at hand, and soldiers have to fix bayonets to the ends of their rifles to defend themselves against the enemy, as firing is no longer possible because the enemy is only a few feet away. Bayonet fighting is probably every soldier's worst nightmare, and it is not much different from what warfare was like a thousand years ago, i.e., two men struggling against each other to the death with only sharp blades to decide who lives and who dies. Makes you want to join the army, doesn't it?

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