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Great World War II Films (DVD) (Black & White)

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    Synopsis

    Includes:
  • The Dawn Express (1942)
  • Gung Ho! (1943), MPAA Rating: NR
  • Submarine Alert (1943)
  • Go for Broke! (1951)
  • Ski Troop Attack (1960)
  • The Battle of El Alamein (1968)
  • Commandos (1968), MPAA Rating: PG

    The Dawn Express
    Originally titled Dawn Express, this PRC spy melodrama was hastily rechristened Nazi Spy Ring to keep abreast of current events. Michael Whalen stars as Robert Norton, a scientist who has developed a formula for synthetic gasoline. A group of Nazi spies try to intimidate Norton into parting with his formula, but he is not so easily frightened. The villains then contrive to have Norton suspected of being a Nazi himself so that he'll be more susceptible to their overtures. As one critic pointed out, the hero could have saved himself all this trouble if he'd reported the spies to the FBI in the first reel, but then the movie would have been over in 12 minutes. Nazi Spy Ring is so cheaply produced that the sets constantly threaten collapse -- and indeed, at one point a break-away door fails to break properly, provoking laughter in all the wrong places. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Gung Ho!
    Accepted in 1943 as standard wartime propaganda, Gung Ho can be seen today as an outrageous exercise in raging machismo. Randolph Scott plays Thorwald, a marine colonel assigned to assemble a crack squadron of fearless jungle fighters for the all-important raid on Japanese-held Makim Island (which in real life was recaptured only a few weeks before the film's release). Thorwald seems determine to select the dregs of the earth for this mission: most of his squadron is comprised of misfits, barroom brawlers, borderline psychos and outright murderers. It is suggested that these sociopaths are the only men truly qualified for the mission at hand, and by film's end the squadron members-living and dead-are lauded as true-blue patriots. Once one gets past the questionable premise, Gung Ho is a fairly exciting WWII melodrama, with a particularly thrilling climax. The film is currently available in its original form and in a computer-colorized version. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Submarine Alert
    The plot of the Pine-Thomas adventure quickie Submarine Alert is more than a little beholden to Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Richard Arlen plays FBI radio engineer Lee Deerhold, who turns bitter and vindictive when he is abruptly fired. Actually, his termination was engineered by his FBI superiors, so that Deerhold will be susceptible to a job offer from a gang of Nazi saboteurs. When Deerhold finally gets wise to what's going on, he finds himself being hotly pursued by practically everyone else in the picture. The better-than-average cast includes Wendy Barrie as undercover agent Ann Patterson, Nils Asther as a mysterious doctor, and Abner Biberman, Marc Lawrence and Dwight Frye as various villains. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Go for Broke!
    Robert Pirosh wrote and directed this little-known World War II drama from MGM that commemorates the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a combat unit composed of Japanese-Americans who fought valiantly during World War II, with many of the actual veterans of the combat unit appearing as actors in the film. For the most part, the film follows the standard Battleground plot line -- there is Sam (Lane Nakano), the wise sergeant; Chick (George Miki), a lazy private; the enervating Ohhara (Henry Oyasato); and Tommy (Henry Nakamura), a crack sharpshooter. Van Johnson plays Lt. Michael Grayson, a bigoted Texan assigned to shape these men into a fighting unit and who learns to respect their valor and bravery. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

    Ski Troop Attack
    An American ski patrol schusses their way across the border into Germany to try and blow up an important railroad bridge in this WW II drama. They are lead by a tough old sergeant and an untried lieutenant. Along the way, they are given shelter by a pretty but treacherous German lass who tries to poison them. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

    The Battle of El Alamein
    No relation to the 1953 El Alamein (beyond a common "real life" source), The Battle of El Alamein was a French-Italian coproduction, largely lensed in Spain. Set during the titular desert battle of 1942, the film departs from expectation by concentrating on the Axis point of view. Though they mistrust one another, the German and Italian troops are forced to work shoulder to shoulder to ward off the British. And talk about revisionist history: Rommel (Robert Hossein) is the hero of the piece, and Montgomery (Michael Rennie) is the villain! Battle of El Alamein would make a fascinating triple feature with Five Graves to Cairo (1943) and The Desert Fox (1953). Incidentally, the "Calvin Jackson Padgett" credited with the direction is really Giorgio Ferroni. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Commandos
    A combined force of Italian and American commandos are ordered to attack and take over an air base in North Africa with only two days to do it. The Italian film, dubbed into English, is also known as Sullivan's Marauders. ~ John Bush, Rovi

  • Cast & Crew

    • Van Johnson
      Van Johnson - Lt. Michael Grayson
    • Image coming soon
      Gianna Maria Canale - Rosina
    • Image coming soon
      Kane Nakano - Sam
    • Image coming soon
      George Miki - Chick
    • Image coming soon
      Akira Fukunaga - Frank
    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.