Thursday, April 28, 2005

I just watched a movie that I should have seen many years ago. It's a WWII movie called Hell is for Heroes that came out in 1962. Here's why I should have seen it before now: not only do Bobby Darin and Steve McQueen star in it, but it's written by Robert Pirosh! Ye who read this blog may not know it, but Robert Pirosh is the creator of my favorite show, Combat!. He only wrote the pilot and then left (maybe to make this movie?), but still, he came up with the main concept of a show about American GIs in France.

Hell is for Heroes has a lot of similarities to Combat!. Bobby Darin's character, "Corby," is basically a skinnier version of Braddock...the Italian scrounger/conman/comic relief. Steve McQueen's "Reese" is Saunders all crabby and no cuddly...he's blond, he got busted down from a higher rank, he has lots of combat experience. Fess Parker's character "Sgt. Pike" is a combination of Sgt. Saunders and Lt. Hanley: he's got Hanley's tall-dark-and-handsome thing going on, but Saunders's patience and understanding too.

Some of the similarities are more obvious, like using stock footage of artillery units firing exciting large weapons. Oh, and the music for Hell is for Heroes is by the same guy that did the music for Combat!, Leonard Rosenman. But the movie does have the one thing that I've always felt C! lacks (at least, in the eps that I've seen, which admittedly is only about half...): a flamethrower!

One other thing I noticed: the title of the two-part C! ep that's generally considered the finest of the show is extremely close to the title of this film. It could be coincidence, since Robert Pirosh was only involved in the pilot ep. And the two-part ep is in Season 4, so it was made several years after Hell is for Heroes. But the title of that ep is Hills are for Heroes...and both that ep and this movie center around soldiers trying to take a Nazi-held pillbox. Could be coincidence. Or the title could be deliberate homage...I'm not sure. If I find out from any of my C! friends, I'll let you know...

4 comments:

  1. This is a quite watchable mid budget war film. What drew me to it was the director, Don Siegel. Siegel started off in the 30's as a second unit editor and director. He moved his way up the ladder and into the director's chair by 1946. He is best known for several excellent film noir, such as, THE VERDICT, THE BIG STEAL, PRIVATE HELL 36, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, THE LINEUP and the brilliant, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. His later work included, DIRTY HARRY, CHARLIE VARRICK, COOGAN'S BLUFF, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA and John Wayne's last film, THE SHOOTIST.

    I like Pirosh's writing as well. One of his few directing jobs, was, VALLEY OF THE KINGS which was one of the films George Lucas borrowed parts for his RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK film.

    Needless to say I have a write-up on IMDB for HELL IS FOR HEROES. Thanks for the reminder, I think I will add it to the re-watch pile.

    Gord

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    1. HIFH is always worth a rewatch :-) Since you're a '60s TV buff, are you familiar with Combat!, the TV show Pirosh created? It's my favorite TV show <3

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  2. Started watching COMBAT when it was on the tube back when it first ran. (dating myself there I guess) Great show and was up against another WW2 series called, THE GALLANT MEN. This series was set in Italy and followed a squad of men up the boot of Italy. Watchable, but did not last against COMBAT. Worth a look though if you can find it. Have reviews on all 26 episodes if you are interested. There is a decent low budget noir film with COMBAT'S Jack Hogan called THE CAT BURGLAR you should watch. It is up on You-Tube I believe. I have the whole series of COMBAT here but I have yet to get to it for re-watch. Oh, well, I only need to live to 100 to get through all my stuff.

    Gord

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    1. I first watched Combat! as a teen in reruns during the '90s. A new local channel started up and showed the most amazing collection of classic TV shows, including C!

      I've seen The Cat Burglar once -- I tend to hunt down the various movies and shows all the C! stars made, as I have time. Most of them guest-starred on a lot of western shows, which I particularly love finding and watching :-)

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