[box cover]

Anzio

In Martin Scorsese's New York, New York, the Robert De Niro character, a war-dodging musician, tries to con his way into a hotel suite on the last day of World War II by claiming to be a vet. "Anzio!" he screams in the lobby of the hotel, as if still hearing the distant roar of cannon-fire. A viewer of Edward Dmytryk's 1968 Anzio might well be screaming, too, but perhaps for different reasons. Part of the pain comes from the weirdly imposed pop tune heard over the credits and sung by Jack Jones: "Where have you gone / You bright-eyed gentle dreamer? / Where is the man / You thought you knew so well? / When did you change / Into a fearsome soldier / Who finally found that / War is necessary hell?" Directed by Dmytryk from a screenplay credited to Harry A. L. Craig on the DVD packaging (but to Frank De Felitta, Dulio Coletti, and Giuseppe Mangione in the credits, from a book by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas), the film is a bore. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, it's an Italian affair made at De Laurentiis's Italian studio, which manages to look more like a Hollywood back lot than an episode of Charlie's Angels (and that's even with photography by the great Giuseppe Rotunno). Robert Mitchum plays a World War II foreign correspondent wandering in and out of the hot spots during the Allied push into Italy from the beaches at Anzio. Mitchum explains to anyone who will listen, including a general played by Arthur Kennedy, that he is really searching for an answer to the question of why mankind still fights among itself. When he encounters Peter Falk, a sort of rogue soldier, he finds something of an answer. Falk — who is stitched together with metal from his last tour of duty, and who re-enlisted in Canada to re-enter the fray — admits to Mitchum that he simply likes to fight and kill, that it makes him feel more alive. Like a cross between Kubrick's first film, Fear and Desire, with its philosophical conversations, and the TV series Combat, with its roaming band of soldiers, Anzio is a limp affair, episodic, over the top, and unengaging. Nevertheless, for some reason Mitchum gives one of his best minor performances, one that is sincere and authentic. Columbia TriStar's DVD features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with pan-and-scan on the flip-side, while the monaural audio (DD 2.0) is in both English and French. Extras consist of the film's theatrical trailer and trailers for three other Columbia TriStar war films. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm



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