Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) Bombastic Berlin Bomb Disposal Drama

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) film poster movie artwork

Director Robert Aldrich teams up once again with Jack Palance. After enjoying their last outing together, the 1956 war film Attack, I was keen on seeing our Jack in another hero role. Off the back of Attack, IMDB recommended me the wonderfully titled 1959 film Ten Seconds To Hell. A story of six German ex-soldiers returning to Berlin to help clear and make safe the city from unexploded British and American bombs.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) bombs dropped on berlin ww2Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) the gang of six

Jack Palance plays Eric Koertner, a man so chiseled he looks like the most handsome missing link there ever was. Reluctant leader of the band of six, Eric is the heart of the group. He is serious and professional, with attention to detail for safety and looking out for his work colleagues. He’s courageous and thoughtful but with an air of pure somber innocence to him, a modest guy.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Eric Koertner bomb disposal expert

Quite the opposite to party man and ladies man Karl Wirtz (Jeff Chandler) the alpha male of the group who likes to have a drink to unwind the dangers of the job in hand. These two big guys couldn’t be more poles apart from each other but both are experts in their work.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance jeff chandler

The other four are just keen to get the job done and hopefully live to spend their hard earnt cash. The problem being, are you going to live long enough to be able to spend it? So they all come up with a plan to pass their wages on to the rest of the group if one of them should unfortunately not make it.  A three month contract which binds them to the task.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Jeff Chandler bomb disposal experts

Tagline – WATCH! This man sweat out the most suspense-torn seconds in screen history!

This is a very efficient film filled with all the drama of sweat, blood and tension you would expect in the painstaking task of diffusing massive unexploded bombs. Dripping foreheads, worried faces and strained muscles, as ropes are pulled and rubble strenuously removed to reveal the detonating fuse to safely disarm the bomb.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Eric Koertner Martine Carol

Throw in a bit of love interest rivalry from landlady, French minx Margot Hofer (Martine Carol) to add some extra tension to the working relationships and you get yourself an excellent post world war two drama. And another superb Palance performance.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) bomb disposal expert

Who will survive this dangerous and harrowing job till the end? Can all the explosives be removed to help rebuild Berlin? Can friendships and relationships survive under such hard stressful times? It’s well worth your time tracking this top-notch drama down for a viewing.

Like I said on the Attack post, if you have any other Jack Palance in hero mode film recommendations, then please let me know.

If you’ve seen it? What did you think?

Auf wiedersehen – Wolfenstein

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) opening credits title screen shot

Attack (1956) Badass Chiseled Cheeked Curly Costa

Attack (1956) poster film movie artwork jack palance

Jack Palance is one of those actors that I know so well. His voice is so recognisable and that unique face of his seems to have played nothing but bad guys. He is probably best known to a certain generation for playing old badass rancher Curly Washburn  alongside Billy Crystal in the 1991 comedy adventure classic City Slickers.  But he’s popped up in a string of 80’s films which included Batman, Hawk The Slayer and Tango & Cash, to name a few, usually doing his panto villain role.

Now I know he had a massive career in cinema right from the 40’s playing all manner of cowboy, crime boss, soldier and even a saucy “R” rated film called Black Snake Woman but I’m honest to say I haven’t seen many.

Attack (1956) Jack Palance Buddy Ebsen Buddy EbsenAttack (1956) Eddie Albert Lee Marvin World War 2

So what a pleasure it was to stumble upon director Robert Aldrich’s 1956 World War Two drama Attack. What a film it was and Jack got to play a hero, Lieutenant Joe Costa. A wiry battleworn, lean and tough, no nonsense hands on fighting machine with a strong code of honour. Unfortunately for our Joe Costa he is under the command of the inept Captain Erskine Cooney (Eddie Albert) a coward with no honour or morals. Which sadly our Joe finds out when the Captain fails to support his troop as they try a daring assault on a German pill box. Resulting in the unnecessary loss of good soldiers in his platoon.

Tagline –“Not every gun is pointed at the enemy!”

Attack (1956) binoculars ambushed firing range ww2

After letting the Captain know his disgust for him, Joe is shut down by the Captains friend and superior Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett (Lee Marvin). Luckily he has an ally in his buddy Lt. Harold Woodruff (William Smithers) but sadly his hands are tied.

With what looks like the start of the Battle Of The Bulge Lieutenant Joe Costa is sent off with his company to lead a reconnaissance mission to see if the Germans are holed up in a small town. Not wishing to lose his good men again with the thought of no support from the Captain and the rest of the company, Joe Costa demands a promise that he will be backed up. Getting to use the fantastic line of……

Lt. Joe Costa – “I swear, I swear by all that’s holy, I’ll come back. I’ll come back and take this grenade and shove it down your throat and pull the pin!”

Attack (1956) Jack Palance grenade Eddie Albert

Surely it wouldn’t happen again? Can our hero keep his troops safe through this attack? Can the incompetent superior officers be brought to justice? Will Joe Costa really have to blow the Captain’s head clean off with a grenade? You gotta tune in to find out.

Attack (1956) Jack Palance battle world war twoAttack (1956) Jack Palance battle world war two german fight

Jack Palance is just absolutely perfect in everyway as the efficient, charismatic, chiseled hero with that wonderful commanding voice. It’s an excellent film and I’m now gonna be searching the archives for more of his performances. Next up is the amazing titled Ten Seconds to Hell which incidentally is also directed by Robert Aldrich.

Can you recommend me some of his films? I see he’s done some film noir style dramas too. Let me know please.

Thanks for reading. Keep it cool, keep watching films. Mikey The Wolfman

Beach Red (1967) It’s Not Just A War Movie!

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War 2 poster film movie

After being so impressed with director and star Cornel Wilde in magnificent form with his chase movie The Naked Prey I had been excitingly awaiting his 1967 follow up Beach Red. This time he stars as a Captain MacDonald, a leader of a US marine unit sent in to fight the might of the Japanese who have a stronghold on a small island in the Pacific during World War 2.

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War 2 soldier marine battleship

Cornel takes the pacifist anti-war film approach and includes a very everyday man feel to it. You get introduced to the soldiers whilst they are circling around the rough sea onboard their landing craft ready to go into hell as they ready themselves for the beach attack.

It isn’t long before they are given the orders to attack the beach and what transpires is pretty horrific and quite the set piece. For the time, I can imagine this mass beach invasion to have looked very impressive, which it still does. I read and could see clear inspiration to the brutal realism on the D-Day landing sequence in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. It might not have the money and the effects but it’s certainly effective.

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War beach invasion d-day landingBeach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific d day landing invasion

What sets this film aside from more gung-ho war films of the time is it’s approach to show a different side to the horrors. Imagery and narration is used in a surreal way to show the morbid reality of war, a cockroach under a boot, a butterfly caught in a spider’s web and the knowledge that most of the insects and plants are out to get you.

We hear little excerpts from each of the marines as inner monologues and daydreams, their fears, worries and feelings for loved ones or even just for everyday chores. Captain MacDonald mutters to himself that he must buy some new glasses when he gets home.

Beach Red (1967) - egan tins of beans cliff
Egan loves his beans.

Also, which is refreshing, is the portrayal of the Japanese soldiers. You see visions of their past lives, like a rice farmer who has been taken away from his wife and young family as he fondly remembers back to his former life.

Beach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific japanese soldiers armyBeach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific japanese soldiers army 2

Capt MacDonald flashes back to his last encounters with his wife and family whilst Private Egan (Burr DeBenningrecalls his past lady friend hook ups, which leads to a great scene with him drunk as a skunk messing around with a gorgeous leggy lass twice his size. Played by “Tall Girl” Linda Albertano at 6’4″ and damn sexy too.

Beach Red (1967) - leggy tall dancing girl small drunk eganBeach Red (1967) - rip torn Sergeant Honeywell

Total bad ass Sergeant Honeywell played by Rip Torn gets to fire off the films best line.

“”I’m gonna bayonet ’em, break their arms, so they don’t give me no more trouble! That’s what we’re here for… To kill… The rest is all crap!””

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde in battle

Captain MacDonald gets a good one in too as he tell redneck Private Egan who can’t stop eating tins of beans.

“I’ll put you in for a new medal, Egan…… for abdominal fortitude”

Some of the dialogue and acting is a little rough round the edges but it’s heart is very much in the right place. Well worth tracking it if you haven’t seen it, or if you have, what did you think?

Beach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific d day landing invasion fight

Here’s the trailer which is really awesome. It edits pretty much everything in under 3 minutes. I suggest you watch the film first if you gonna see it soon but if you can’t wait, go for it.

Beach Red (1967) - opening film title credits screen shot

The Long Day’s Dying (1968) Telepathic Pacifist?

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - titles credits david hemmings

The Long Day’s Dying was my favorite film from my March movies watching and the second, that month to feature that man David Hemmings. The other was the excellent school drama, Unman, Wittering and Zigo.

Directed by Peter Collinson, who sandwiched this film in between Up The Junction and the classic mini gold robbing caper The Italian Job.

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - soldiers british film
Not sure on Hemmings kill face!

Starring Mr Hemmings as John, one of three soldiers holed up in a European countryside in a broken down chateau during the second world war. Bombs blast around them, Germans soldiers litter the area. Do they wait for their Sergeant who has ventured out in an attempt to locate their unit, or do they move on before they are discovered?

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - David Hemmings keeping look out

In the spooky house in the woods with a chicken, John, Cliff (Tony Beckley) and Tom Cooper (Tom Bell) talk to each other telepathically and I assure you it’s not an episode of Sapphire and Steel. Well they don’t actually speak with their minds but you hear their inner monologue and they answer each other. It’s gives this World War Two movie a wonderful sense of the surreal. I believe it’s because they are a close unit, brothers in arms, they know what each other’s thoughts and movements are. It’s a intriguing part of this relatively unknown obscure gem, main reason for never being released on VHS or DVD.  Bizarrely it’s on Amazon to rent though.

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - David Hemmings gun soldier

John “I have a small skewer hidden in the collar of my jumping jacket, and a razor blade in my Gaiter as well as my knife”

The three are quite different characters, John keeps going on about being a pacifist as he informs you how well he’s tooled up and gets ready to go in for the kill. Cliff has some big anger problems and takes them out on our feathered friend. And Tom Cooper is a well mannered and thoughtful soldier and a close friend of John’s.  Could a German soldier called Helmet (Alan Dobie) change things for them?

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - capture

Film critic Renata Adler gives the movie a right smashing back on it’s original release of 1968 for The New York Times. The Long Days Dying NY Times Review

I’m not sure if it was because of that review but I see on the promotional poster there’s a long piece saying don’t listen to the bad reviews the film has got.  Written by another New York Times film critic called Penelope Gilliatt, she is English by the way. Here’s what she says, some tough words.

“A very fine piece of writing, acting and filmmaking and I believe that anyone who drags his feet because of the current rumor that the picture is too rough for the American people is making a libellous misjudgement of his country’s mood”

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - explosions

To be fair I can imagine at the time it might of not come off as well. For me it’s the old style that has held up well alongside the writing and those monologues, giving it an original feel which I feel sets it apart from other anti-war films. I was transfixed throughout the runtime and continue to think about it.

Based on a novel by Alan White who was a commando leader during the war so giving it a real authentic realistic feel.

The Long Day's Dying (1968) - David Hemmings novel Alan White

Future Reading Links

The Long Day’s Dying (1968) IMDB

The Long Day’s Dying (1962) Alan White. Goodreads review

The Long Day’s Dying (1968) Amazon UK Rental

Off Limits (1988) Saigon Detectives

Off Limits (1988) Poster

This is a very effective action packed buddy movie with quite the bizarre setting of war torn city of Saigon in 1968. With the Vietnam war playing out in the background and the heat and debauchery of the country’s city, two army detectives investigate the serial killings of young prostitutes.

Off Limits (1988) Gregory Hines and Willem Dafoe

Tagline – Being a cop is tough. But in Saigon, 1968, being a cop is crazy…

Gregory Hines, the man with puppy dog eyes, plays Albaby Perkins a tough gum chewing no nonsense guy who has a fetish to ripping balls clean off! Along with his fellow Sergeant First Class, is Buck McGriff, played by Willem Dafoe who on a rare occasion doesn’t feel the need to get his arse out! I imagine he probably tried but Gregory wasn’t at all impressed.

Off Limits (1988) Gregory Hines and Willem Dafoe car

Buck McGriff – I could pop your head like a pimple before they get off a single round.

These two tough CID (Criminal Investigation Command) officers, run around chasing suspects at break neck speed and getting caught up in dangerous situations in the “Off Limits” area. Having cat fights and banter with the local police force and dropping into full on battlefront combat carnage in the field. These two also finding the time to escort naughty Nicole the French Nun (Amanda Pays) around the city and get chatting to poor dripping dick Maurice (Keith David).

Off Limits (1988) Gregory Hines and Willem Dafoe Keith david

Tagline – Going too far is what they do best..

Keeping an eye on each others backs and not knowing who to trust, can our two brothers in arms solve the case and bring an end to these horrible murders?

Off Limits (1988) got a tail
Watch out we are being tailed!

 

Popping up along the way is Master Sergeant Dix (Fred Ward) who helps our guys out in the investigations and the brash, boisterous and kinky Colonel Dexter Armstrong (Scott Glenn) who likes a tidy chopper. All the going ons help to add to the sweaty melting pot in this outrageously grim action packed 80’s mystery crime drama film.

Fun Fact – I read that Gregory Hines is said to have improvised some of his scenes from the testicles crushing interrogation to flippin the bird with his middle finger to angry mob.

Off Limits (1988) albaby flipping the bird

Be sure to check Mr Hines in another buddy cop film Running Scared with Billy Crystal, one of my personal favs. Also Mr Dafoe has made tons of excellent films but a recent watch recommend I can say is To Live and Die In LA.

Best Scene – The opening credits as they drive down the packed bustling Saigon high street giving everyone the eyeball and throwing around the muscle as Wilson Pickett’s Funky Broadway blasts out the car stereo.

Here’s the trailer

Further Reading Links

Off Limits (1988) IMDB

Off Limits (1988 film) WIKI

Uncommon Valor (1983)

uncommon-valor-1983-poster

Another 80’s movie ticked off the list. Not sure how I missed this one back in my VHS rental days. There has to be a very good chance my grubby digits stroked the cassette box whilst eyeing up the cover information.

uncommon-valor-1983-frank-rhodesUncommon Valor is the film Ted Kotcheff directed after the legend of Rambo First Blood (1982). This time Gene Hackman jumps into the lead as a Dad on a mission. No ordinary Dad though, this is US Marine Colonel Jason Rhodes, a retired badass with some cash and a few friends in high places. Unfortunately 10 years ago his son Frank was captured along with some buddies at the end of the Vietnam war becoming POWs and assumed dead. Colonel Rhodes won’t except they are dead and sets aside a rescue squad of old Vietnam Vets who served in his son’s division. But first he has to persuade this messed up bunch of of veterans, all suffering from PTSD of some sorts, back into the hell’s mouth they had been lucky to survive, 10 years ago.

uncommon-valor-1983-the-teamThe gang consists of rookie Kevin Scott (Patrick Swayze). A beef cake BMX guy, joker and explosives expert, Blaster (Reb Brown). Messed up traumatised and claustrophobic Wilkes (Fred WardTremors). Biker stoner, tripped out ballerina dancing, grenade wearing, kick boxer Sailor (Randall Tex CobbRaising Arizona) Plus two helicopter pilots Johnson (Harold Sylvester) and Charts (Tim Thomerson) who also finds time during the chaos to have a little love interest going.

uncommon-valor-1983-blaster

uncommon-valor-1983-sailor-dance

Sailor –  Man, I’m so far beyond that shit now. I get energy from the air. I talk to polar bears. I converse with paramecium. Man, I fuck nuclear waste.

This ragtag bunch have to go through training to get back fit and organised. This means we get a montage of hilarious training programs as the gang start to bond together. Lucky Colonel Rhodes has set up an exact copy of the prison camp they need to attack. After months of training with the perfect plan tried and tested over and over, what really could go wrong?

uncommon-valor-1983-rhodes-prisonThe crazy thing about this film is after half the film has been taken up with the getting the plan together routine, that as soon as they set foot in the country all their weapons, supplies and trucks are impounded. Those best laid plans go to shit, real fast…..

Sailor – Boy, you usin’ that oriental martial bullshit on me’s gonna get real expensive.

uncommon-valor-1983-blaster-sailor

Can this hotchpotch band of brothers pull off this dangerous mission to rescue captured soldiers. Track it down for a watch, it’s good old fashioned 80’s macho action fun.

Here’s the great trailer that introduces all the players.

Further Reading Links

The New York Times Review 1983

Uncommon Valor (1983) IMDB

Morituri (1965)

morituri-poster

I admit to have only watched Marlon Brando in abstract versions of himself playing total odd balls (Dr. Moreau), deranged minds in chaos (Apocalypse Now) or even hamster cheeked mob bosses (The Godfather). So wishing to expand his film archive I took a punt on this interesting sounding World War II sabotage adventure but low and behold he’s putting on another accent. To my relief he is far from mad in this film and holds this picture together with his immense presence and talent. The interactions between him and his co star Yul Brynner are magnificent.

Tagline – World War II, Espionage, adventure and human lives have never before been combined so explosively

morituri-1

Robert Crain (Marlon Brando) is a German pacifist who has escaped the Nazi’s and is hiding out in India chilling in a mansion, knocking back fine wines and sticking classical vinyl on his deck. He’s having a lovely time until he is found and blackmailed by Allied Colonel Statter (Trevor Howard). They want to use his engineering background and German accent to pose as an SS officer to gain access to a freighter carrying a shipment of rubber bound for Germany to be made into tyres for the war effort. His mission is to disable the scuttling explosives in the cargo bays so the Allies can capture the shipment for themselves.

What follows is a series of very suspenseful encounters with the ship’s Captain Mueller (Yul Brynner) a crew of ex cons and political prisoners and a do-gooder SS wannabe called Kruse (Martin Benrath) not to mention there’s a war going on.

morituri-2
Esther, Robert Crain and Captain Mueller

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and have been thinking about it for the last few weeks. All the performances were stellar and the story is extremely gripping but one thing was so out of place and really quite nasty.

The introduction of a young jewish girl called Esther played by (Janet Margolin), who I must add is incredibly mind blowingly beautiful and had me transfixed. The thing is her story line is so tragic and utterly brutal that it felt so out of place. It is one of the most disturbing and heartbreaking stories you could hear and I honestly felt it didn’t fit in with the mood of the film at all.

Morituri is based on a novel by Werner Jörg Lüddecke and directed by Bernhard Wicki.

morituri-janet-margolin
Janet Margolin – What you looking at?

From all the new movies I have watched over the last month this one has stayed with me the most. The engine room sets where colossal and with all the noise, steam, grease and oil you could really feel the heat and danger when our hero Robert Crain drops down in the belly of the boat.

Fun Fact – Never underestimate the power of lard!

I read that the movie didn’t do that well at the box office, the title name surely couldn’t of helped unless you went to public school. To be honest I can’t even say it, everytime I tell someone about it I say Sherlock’s nemesis Moriarty instead. It did get later released under the maybe better name The Saboteur: Code Name Morituri.

Marlon’s On The Waterfront was ticked off my to watch list recently too. That was one cool film and had me hook line and sinker rooting for Terry Malloy.

saboteur-code-name-morituri

Here’s the trailer but be warned at 3 minutes long it does give away a lot of key points.

Further Reading Links

Morituri (1965) WIKI

Morituri (1965) IMDB

Turner Classic Movie Article