Most helpful positive review
142 of 148 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2002
I have the movie in VHS, part of (I like to feel) a good collection of war films, in both VHS & DVD, from - "All Quiet on the Western Front '1930'" to "Saving Private Ryan '1998', some '140' war films. I can certainly use the 2 former as a benchmark for comparison & rating. If "Saving Private Ryan", the finest war film I have ever seen, with the most graphically realistic & brutal battle scenes, ever shown on film, has, without a doubt become the benchmark by which all later war films would be judged, then "Merrill's Marauders" is a '60's classic, with, in my opinion, some of the finest acting ever portrayed in a war film! Jeff Chandler, as an earlier review stated, gives one of his finest performances, (He truly is a gifted actor!)This movie portrays, as was intended the American involvement in the Burma Theater of Operations against the Japanese, a 3000 strong unit, put together of mostly seasoned troops, volunteers, for 1 mission against the enemy. From Jeff Chandlers gritty performance, such as when he tells his men - quote -"Everybody back into the swamp" instead of waiting for desperately needed food & ammo supplies, to avoid enemy troops searching for them, to a very poignant scene by actor Claude Akins. All the soldiers are completely exhausted from continuous battles with the enemy, and literally starving, from lack of food supplies that had run out, He's approached by an old Burmese woman & young boy, in a village they have just occupied after a brutal battle, the pair attempt to feed him the
only food they have, a bowl of rice. Overwhelmed by it all, he not only breaks down in tears, but in a gesture reminiscent of the generation, and considering the horrific battle he's just been through, removes his cap in a show of gentlemanly respect
to the old woman. To me the most touching & realistic scene I have ever seen him portray. As far as accuracy, I give the movie
"High Marks", there is a scene in the reservoir night battle scene when the Japanese are attempting to infiltrate the American lines, a Japanese soldier who tries to bayonet Claude Akins is stopped by him and flipped over the stone wall and killed. If you look closely at the Japanese soldiers footwear, as he is flipped over the wall(you may have to do it in slo-mo)you'll notice he is wearing the standard split-toe style shoe worn by Japanese troops during the war. The film makers, working for this type of accuracy, though it may well have not been noticed by the general public, only speaks for the realism that they worked to achieve. I agree with another review, in that the Japanese were, in many instances easy kills in the battle action, but I consider this a small slight against what I deem an excellent movie filled with gritty realism, good battle action, and an excellent look at the common American soldier in action and the constant fear, hunger & deprivation he faced, exemplified by the courage & tenacity with which he persevered and eventually triumphed over the enemy!
Sure it's meant to rous the American public of the "60's" with the unbeatable fighting spirit of the Ameircan G.I., and that's exactly what it does, and does well! To all who read this, I am fairly new to the internet, and just learning my way around, but at age 48, I've seen most every war film shown, and I feel I am a fair judge. I give this film and the director & cast a solid "4 STARS ****!!!