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4.4 out of 5 stars
Merrill's Marauders
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142 of 148 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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 ****!!!
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 18, 2000
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
This is a rugged and gritty WWII film set in the CBI Theater directed by Samuel Fuller. The action concerns Jeff Chandler, in his last screen portrayal, as Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill. Merrill leads a band of battle fatigued GIs (Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Claude Akins, Will Hutchins and others) against the Japanese in the Burmese jungle. It is beautifully photographed in color and CinemaScope by William Clothier. Fuller co-wrote the script with Milton Sperling. This film has been highly underrated. It is a good depiction of the stress, determination and humanity experienced by the average GI in everyday face-to-face confrontation with the enemy. Jeff Chandler gives an accurate performance of the real Merrill. Jeff Chandler truly was a gifted actor and deserves more recognition for his talents as this film demonstrates. The VHS copy is in Full-Frame, but it retains the images in vivid color and is very enjoyable. It was released theatrically in 1962.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2005
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Merrill's Marauders is an excellent WWII movie dealing with a topic often ignored in war movies covering the Pacific Theater. In 1944, the 5307th Composite Unit, Merrill's Marauders, 3,000 seasoned jungle fighters, march into Burma with the objective of the supply depot at Walawbum and the airfield at Myitkyina. The Marauders must march across hundreds of miles of dense jungle, pushing themselves to their mental and physical limits, battling Japanese troops all the way. Like most Fuller movies, Marauders has plenty of great action scenes as the 5307th trudges across Burma. Along with the excellent battle scenes, Fuller includes several very powerful and moving scenes, specifically when the Marauders are resting in a Burmese village and are approached by the villagers. At a compact 99 minutes, Merrill's Marauders is a quick-paced, action-packed, exciting war movie from Samuel Fuller.

Jeff Chandler gives one of his best performances as Brigadier General Frank Merrill, the commander of the 5307th who must push his men to their absolute limit, physically and mentally. Unfortunately, Chandler died before the film was released in theaters. Ty Hardin matches Chandler with his performance as Lt. Lee Stockton, Merrill's long-time friend and leader of the 5307th's scout platoon. Andrew Duggan plays Captain Kolodny, the doctor accompanying the unit. Stockton's platoon includes Peter Brown as Bullseye, the platoon's sharpshooter, Claude Akins as Kolowicz, the tough sergeant, Will Hutchins as Chowhound, Charles Briggs as Muley, the mule-packer, and Pancho Magalona as Taggy, the Filipino scout. Unfortunately, there is no DVD release of Merrill's Marauders, although this is one film that definitely deserves a release. The VHS copy is of decent quality in pan-n-scan. The VHS copies are getting harder to find, so if you locate one, pick it up. Overall, Merrill's Marauders is an exciting, moving look at the invasion of Burma that has been unfairly looked over since its release. Well worth it if you can find a copy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a classic WW2 movie with an excellent cast and script. It's based on the true story of Gen. Frank Merrill and the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) who fought behind the Japanese lines in the China/Burma/India theatre. They walked over 1000 miles and raided Japanese bases in Burma and fought 5 major and 30 minor engagements. It's a story of the battles, the hardships, and the men who made up this unit. Hollywood has taken some liberties, but it's none the less a tribute to these brave men. Excellent story and well worth watching.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Not in the top rank of war pictures, Merrill's Marauders is still a great way for fans of the genre to spend a couple of hours. I would rank one particular scene, the fighting in the oil refinery among the concrete bases for the huge tanks, as one of the best and beautifully choreographed action sequences I have ever seen. I thought that Jeff Chandler's performance was excellent and that the rest of the cast was quite up to the task. Weak points in the film include the rather stock military band music used throughout and a sudden ending with some "modern" footage pasted on that makes one wonder if Fuller didn't just run out of money.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
Format: DVD
My father was a staff sargent in MM and, when he saw the movie, said it was pretty accurate. He said the main thing that was left out was the utter brutality. Because they didn't trust the enemy soldiers that they captured (couldn't release them or send them to the rear lines) and were short on ammo, they bayonetted to death "countless" captured enemy soldiers. He said the Japanese soldiers would fight to the death and then some so - no prisoners taken.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2008
Format: DVD
***1/2 1962. Based on Charlton Ogburn Jr.'s The Marauders, MERRILL'S MARAUDERS was written and directed by Samuel Fuller. 1942. Led by Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill, 3000 soldiers head to a Japanese commanding post in Burma through jungle, swamps and mountains. Another war movie by Fuller which handles a theme, among others, already present in Fixed Bayonets: What differentiates a noncommissioned officer from an officer responsible for the life of his men ? The main interest of this film nowadays is the description of the strange relation existing between Jeff Chandler and Ty Hardin. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 19, 2010
Format: DVD
Brigadier General Frank Merrill (Jeff Chandler) commands the 5307th Composite Unit, a light infantry Special Operations group of the U.S. Army, operating in southeast Asia (mostly Burma) during World War II. The task for him and his 3,000 very much battle-hardened men is to help keep the Japanese Army from crossing through the country from the west and heading on towards India. His men are seriously fatigued and in need of rest; most have volunteered for extra combat tours and are due to be relieved, but Merrill keeps having new assignments given to him by his superior, General Stilwell (John Hoyt), and his fatherly relationship with a young lieutenant, Stock (Ty Hardin) is regularly tested as he demands more and more; and this tests Stock's relationships with his men, particularly his platoon sergeant (Claude Akins) who thinks that Stock and Merrill have gotten too close.

This is essentially a survival-type war film, with many small skirmishes shown, which along with the vagaries of long jungle treks and hazardous mountain climbs take a huge toll on the men, who are even at the beginning of the film already at their limits. It follows the pretty standard war film clichés, with several of Stock's men introduced and given little character bits - one is a Filipino patriot who hates the Japanese (but is the only speaker of the language in the platoon), one an expert marksman nicknamed `Bullseye", one a man whose never-full stomach leads him into trouble, and so on. There's little here that's fresh or unpredictable in any way, but director Sam Fuller and his ace cinematographer William Clothier shoot it beautifully and economically; look for the several sunset shots in particular, which are just gorgeous. Though this might well be Fuller's most "conventional" war film (I've seen all of them now except for HELL AND HIGH WATER), some of his characteristic interests do manage to creep in, such as the questioning of authority - as each man resents what the next guy higher up tells him to do, but has to do it anyway - and the empathy for, and focus on the common G.I.

More interesting in some ways than the film itself are a couple of back stories. First, this was Chandler's last film - he died just after finishing shooting it, of a botched operation on his back, for an injury suffered while playing basketball with some of the extras on the film, a sad and untimely end for the 42-year old imposing, deep-voiced actor who was himself a veteran of the war. Chandler had been nominated for an Oscar in an early role in BROKEN ARROW (1950), but to my mind this is probably his best work, as he plays Merrill with a huge amount of soul and compassion, and he's very convincing in showing the pain of the general's real-life heart condition; he may have been having back problems already while shooting the film. I suspect that he was already dead - or hospitalized - while the editing was still going on; there are some looped bits of his dialogue that are clearly not spoken by him. The other interesting tidbit is that costar Hardin eventually left acting to become a rather well-known white supremacist and organizer of a paramilitary militia group; ironically enough, star Chandler and director-writer Fuller were both Jewish - and Fuller's last American film, released right around the time Hardin's activities as a right-wing political activist were gearing up, was the explicitly anti-racist WHITE DOG (1982).

Not a great film all in all, but a good and solid one, certainly worth seeing for all the fans out there of Samuel Fuller, one of America's greatest (and still underappreciated) directors, and a nice tribute to one of those might-have-been-greats, Jeff Chandler.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This movie did not glamorize the war instead it showed the hardships the men went though to get the job done. Chandler was excellcent in this movie he showed compassion for his men all the while trying to get the job done. I enjoyed it and would watch it agin.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This was a joy to purchase. This was my father's unit in WWII, and I remember seeing this movie on TV when I was little. Since my father passed 5 years ago, I have been searching to find this movie. For anyone that is interested, my father was "Bullseye". He explained to me why named such. This movie depicted most of what happened during his tour. As anyone knows, not all movies show everything. Because of General Merrill's campaign, the men in his unit not only received various medals from the United States government, but many from Burma and China. Unfortunately, our home was robbed and all of my father's medals were stolen. We were able to replace those from our government, however those from China and Burma could never be replaced.

For anyone that is a WWII afficiando, or had a relative a part of this campaign, this movie is an excellent tribute to these men.
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