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HELL IS FOR HEROES

title: HELL IS FOR HEROES
year: 1962
cast: Steve McQueen, Nick Adams, Harry Guardino, Bob Newhart, Mike Kellin, Fess Parker, James Coburn
director: Don Siegel
rating: ***1/2

Ensemble war film plays like an episode of COMBAT as an outnumbered American troop, poised against a German battalion in a bevy of foxholes, fight the odds and each other. Steve McQueen is effective as an eerily subdued hellion whose only talent occurs in battle; he prefers killing to waiting around like the others including James Coburn as a witty mechanic, Nick Adams a young Russian, Harry Guardino a firm Sargent, and (of all people) Bob Newhart as a nerdy typist accidentally thrust into the dire situation, providing his famous phone bit to trick the Germans. Director Don Siegel moves things along at a nice pace and although the acting's a bit stagy, and stock footage takes away from some of the climactic battle, it all works as a kind of mellow War Noir.
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