1966 “CAST A GIANT SHADOW”

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1966 “CAST A GIANT SHADOW”

1966 “Cast A Giant Shadow”, is a Middle Eastern political/military action movie directed by Melville Shavelson, written by Ted Berkman, and starring Kirk Douglas, James Donald, Angie Dickinson, Senta Berger, John Wayne, Michael Douglas, Frank Sinatra and Yul Brynner. It is available on DVD from a variety of sources and is 146 minutes in length.

As reviewed by Wikipedia, the film is a fictionalized account of the experiences of a real-life Jewish-American military officer, Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus (Kirk Douglas), who commanded units of the fledgling Israel Defense Forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Marcus, a reserve Colonel in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Army, recently released from active duty and now working as a New York lawyer, is approached by an Haganah agent, Major Safir (Donald), while on his way to court. Safir requests his assistance in preparing Israeli troops to defend the newly declared state against the invasion of its Arab neighbors.

Marcus, still an Army Reserve officer, is refused permission by the Pentagon (Wayne) to go, unless he travels as a civilian. The Haganah gives him a false passport with the alias “Michael Stone”. As “Michael Stone”, he arrives in Israel to be met by a Haganah member, Magda Simon (Berger), whom he immediately starts flirting with.

Marcus, who parachuted into occupied France during World War II, helped to organize the relief mission for one of the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by American troops, is initially viewed with suspicion by some Haganah soldiers (Brynner). But after he leads a commando raid on an Arab arms dump (Michael Douglas) and assists in a landing of illegal refugees (Sinatra), he is more accepted. He prepares his training manuals and then returns to New York, where his wife has suffered a miscarriage (Dickinson).

Now restless, and despite his wife’s pleadings, he does return to Israel and is given command of the Jerusalem front with the rank of ‘Aluf’ (General), a rank not used since biblical days. He sets to work, recognizing that, while the men under his command do not have proper training or weapons or even a system of ranks, they do have spirit and determination. He organizes the construction of the “Burma Road,” bypassing Latrun, to enable convoys to reach besieged Jerusalem, where the population is on the verge of starvation.

Many of the soldiers under his command are newly arrived in Israel, determined and enthusiastic but untrained. Dubbing them ‘the schnooks’, Marcus is inspired by them to discover that he is proud to be a Jew. But just before the convoy of trucks to Jerusalem starts out, he is shot and killed by a lone sentry who does not speak English – the last casualty before the United Nations-imposed truce. The coffin containing his body is ceremonially carried by the soldiers whom he trained and inspired.

The direction, production and acting are above average. The editing is less so leaving some points in the movie unclarified, or confusing. IMDB gives a rating of 6.3. Vaultimes gives a rating of 7.5.

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas had worked together in 1965 “In Harm’s Way” and 1967 “War Wagon”. John Wayne and Angie Dickinson had worked together in 1959 “Rio Bravo”.

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