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