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Cast a Giant Shadow

259 customer reviews

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(Feb 05, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Part fact, part fiction, Cast a Giant Shadow powerfully dramatizes Israel's heroic 1947-48 struggle for independence. Both realistic war story and passionate romance, it features an all-star cast, including Kirk Douglas, Senta Berger and Angie Dickinson, as well as Yul Brynner, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra in notable supporting roles. After a brilliant career with the U.S. army, WWII hero and Jewish American Mickey Marcus (Douglas) is called to the new state of Israel to build an army capable of withstanding its Arab foes. Against the wishes of his wife (Dickinson), Mickey makes the journey and begins transforming a rag-tag underground army into a first-class fighting machine. But as the threat of war looms, Mickey must also confront his growing attraction to beautiful activist Magda Simon (Berger).

Cast a Giant Shadow is based on Ted Berkman's biography of Colonel Mickey Marcus, the American soldier who served as an adviser in the fight to establish the state of Israel in 1948. Marcus (played by Kirk Douglas) must decide whether to settle into peacetime America or follow his more natural, combative instincts abroad--a dilemma symbolized by a love triangle involving wife Angie Dickinson and Senta Berger as a soldier whom he falls for in Palestine. Although lavish and spectacular, especially in the war scenes--filmed in the actual Middle Eastern locations in which they occurred--Cast a Giant Shadow is not entirely authentic. Moreover, in the light of later troubles in the region, not everyone will find heartwarming this depiction of plucky little Israel coping against Arab foes who are barely depicted as human throughout the film. Still, it's an impressive enough relic of epic 1960s cinema, with cameos by Yul Brynner, John Wayne, and Frank Sinatra. --David Stubbs

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Senta Berger, Angie Dickinson
  • Directors: Melville Shavelson
  • Writers: Melville Shavelson, Ted Berkman
  • Producers: Melville Shavelson, Michael Wayne
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Mono), French (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: February 5, 2002
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005S8KR
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,244 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cast a Giant Shadow" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 137 people found the following review helpful By usmc [ret] on July 21, 2004
Format: DVD
i was an 11 year old when the events in this movie took place. col. marcus was often a guest at our house, prior to going to help israel. my father was a member of the nypd, and was one of the pallbearers for col. marcus. in addition to that, he was also involved in helping the israelis get weapons [pistols, ammo, and radios]. i saw this movie whwn it 1st came out, and memories were refreshed. i also visited israel, and went to latrun and up the 'burma road' to jerusalem. to this day, there are the remnants of military vehicles destroyed in battle by the arab forces, which entirely out manned and outgunned the fledgling israeli army. one of the results of col. marcus' untimely death was the mandatory learning of hebrew for all new immigrants, no exceptions! despite all the negative reviews, this reviewer knew col. marcus, and other fighters for the fledgling israeli army. this review refers to the book, the screen version, and the vhs tape. it is worth buying this movie.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Sam Damon Jr. on October 13, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Reviewers need to be aware that films of history the sooner they are filmed to the event can often catch the mood/look of the time period better than today with our myriad of special effects but no heart. "Cast a Giant Shadow" does this.
A great war film that shows how technotactically the "edge" on the battlefield goes to those who can get the best mechanical advantage---the Israelis need a main supply route open to feed Jerusalem (I have actually walked these steep defiles) and tries to armor plate trucks and this doesn't work against ambushers waiting for them. This serves as a warning that the U.S. Army cannot make the same mistake of basing itself on restricted to roads, vulnerable heavy armored cars as some seem lusting for these days. David Ben-Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister knows the "center of gravity" is holding Jerusalem (same is true today) in order to have a rallying point for the new nation. He compels Marcus to find a way to win.
Col Marcus played by Kirk Douglas displays the dogged determination "if you first don't succeed, try, try again" so lacking in today's generation. He reminds the Israelites not to wallow in self-pity over their plight BUT TO DO SOMETHING to make things better. He tries to infantry attack Latrun without tracked armored vehicle fire support and fails to take the walled post (now the IDF tank museum) to bust open the road to Jerusalem. He does succeed in mobile warfare against Egyptian tanks using anti-tank guns mounted on jeeps. Eventually, Marcus finds a way----
I think the women in the film are sexy; Dickinson and Berger and add to the film in that they love their man, Marcus but fear for his safety as he does what has to be done because humanity insists it be done.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on December 12, 2006
Format: DVD
First off let me say I have been living in Jerusalem now for two years and I saw Exodus before I cmae here but this film in many ways is more senitmental and brings tears to the eyes, despite its Hollywood idiocy, cardboard acting and stereotypes. The cinematography cannot be beaten, the film is shot in the dirty kibbutzim, Jerusalem hills and Negev desert. Although the battles are stylized and the Egyptian tanks are not accurate, the film maintains many accurate aspects. It truthfully shows the non-support given by the U.S to nascent Israel. It also gives many accurate details regarding the Egyptian advance, the battles for Jerusalem, the Burma road and the ALA. It fairly depicts the arab irregulars, and in this many are wrong, the depiction of Israeli organization and Arab disorganization is fairly portrayed. The Israelis are shown to be full of bravado, lacking many military skills, but with much efficiency and zeal while the Arabs are truthfully shown to be made up of a variety of competing interests, including irregulars, sheikhs and regular troops.

Many small details are accurate and fair. The cast is brilliant, including Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra(in a bit part) and John Wayne. The Hebrew is simple and helpful for the begginer. THe Romance is not as stupid as previously portrayed, and the Israelis/Jews are depicted in their diversity(with the exception of the religious).

Seth J. Frantzman
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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful By gobirds2 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 7, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
First off, this film contains a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein. It is brilliant. Melville Shavelson wrote and directed this sprawling biographical action picture about (Colonel) "Mickey" Marcus (Kirk Douglas), a West Point graduate and an adviser to President Roosevelt during W.W.II, who, at the request of the Israelis, went to there in the late 40s to re-organize their army. In this account, based on a book by Ted Berkman, Mickey Marcus is the master strategist who leads the Israelis to victory in the war with the Arabs. Melville Shavelson admires him, making him the cool but enigmatic leader. Shavelson is very eager to please the audience enough to throw in numerous guest stars, such as Frank Sinatra and Yul Brynner, and agonizes over Mickey's moral conflict between Angie Dickinson, the wife he leaves at home in the U.S., and Senta Berger, the female warrior he takes up with. Even those willing to accept the hours of incoherence and banality may recoil at the obscenity of being asked to experience the horrors of Dachau as reflected in John Wayne's bleary eyes. It also features Topol, James Donald, Stathis Giallelis, Ruth White, Gordon Jackson, Luther Adler, Gary Merrill, and Jeremy Kemp. Get the soundtrack.
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