Saturday, April 24, 2010
EIGHT IRON MEN (1952)
Eight Iron Men (1952) should have been a tense, exciting WWII movie about a squadron trying to save one of their own trapped behind enemy lines. The cast is good: Lee Marvin, Arthur Franz, Richard Kiley, James Griffith, Bonar Colleano, and Dickie Moore. But it's all talk, talk, talk ... understandable since it was based on the 1945 play A Sound of Hunting, the stage production that got Burt Lancaster noticed by Hollywood. Talky movies are only good when they have something to say that is interesting ... if it builds suspense. This movie does not. The production of the movie was to start in 1949. At that time, Franchot Tone was to direct and star alongside Glenn Ford and Lew Ayres. When that fell through, Edward Dmytryk directed the final low-budget product. The various flashbacks featuring Mary Castle as the girl of Colleano's dreams add an absurd touch to the proceedings. (Castle is best known as the actress who bore a striking resemblance to Rita Hayworth, contracted by Columbia as a "threat.") The best scenes in Eight Iron Men are the ones featuring the tenuous bickering of Marvin and Kiley. The two characters' conflict on following orders adds an interesting dimension to the stale comedy and other trifles. The film's working titles were The Sound of Hunting and The Dirty Dozen. Marvin, of course, starred in another Dirty Dozen in 1967.