Published on October 8th, 2007 | by Chris0
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
After World War II, as you are probably quite aware by now, the official state of Israel was formed in Palestine. And then all hell broke loose.
Cast a Giant Shadow attempts to tell a bit of that story, as former American officer Mickey Marcus (Kirk Douglas) goes to Israel to help establish their military, fend off those who would oppose them, and legitimize the newly formed government.
Now, I don't want to get into an argument about the politics of the Middle East, so I won't touch on any of that. Sure this is based on a true story, and the American bias is obvious, but really this is an excellent war movie from the "docu-drama" category. With plenty of artistic license thrown in.
Yeah, you've got to contend with the tacked-on love story bit, where Marcus gets estranged from his wife, and falls for the hot Israeli chick. But its all good.
Basically the plot follows Marcus as he's thrust into the battle early on his arrival to the region, and has to figure out how to unify about four different "militias" under the flag of the provisional, still unrecognized government. Once this is accomplished, he's lauded as a hero, both there and at home. Unfortunately he meets his doom quite by accident, and that's where the movie ends.
What strikes me most odd about this is the near upstaging of Douglas by the "special guest" cast, who only get billed at the end of the cast list in the credits. You've got the US Army General Randolph whom Marcus flaunted (and still does) during the war played by none other than John Wayne. Then there's the commander of one of the Israeli factions, Asher Gonen, played by Yul Brynner. Wait for it, there's more. Toward the end, Frank Sinatra of all folks shows up as a (should I say *the*) pilot for the Israeli "Air Force" (once you've seen it you'll understand the quotes...)
Overall this star studded cast along with Angie Dickinson as Marcus' wife, and Senta Berger as Magda, the other woman, makes Cast a Giant Shadow a movie worthy of its name.
Really I wasn't expecting to like this one very much, I figured it'd just be a "let's just hash some history" type of story, but its done really well. Yeah there are some stereotypes portrayed, most notably on the Arab side of things, but you just have to run with it.
Regardless of your opinions of the middle east situation, I'd recommend Cast a Giant Shadow, if nothing else to learn about a bit of history you probably weren't aware of (I know I wasn't at all) and to watch a cast of great actors click together.
Cast a Giant Shadow
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Cast a Giant Shadow is based on Ted Berkman's biography of Colonel Mickey Marcus, the American soldier who served as an adviser in the fight to establish the state of Israel in 1948. Marcus (played by Kirk Douglas) must decide whether to settle into peacetime America or follow his more natural, combative instincts abroad--a dilemma symbolized by a love triangle involving wife Angie Dickinson and Senta Berger as a soldier whom he falls for in Palestine...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
- Kirk Douglas
- John Wayne
- Frank Sinatra
- Senta Berger
- Angie Dickinson
132 of 149 people found the following review helpful
a true story with a tragic death [that of col. marcus],
This review is from: Cast a Giant Shadow (DVD)
i was an 11 year old when the events in this movie took place. col. marcus was often a guest at our house, prior to going to help israel. my father was a member of the nypd, and was one of the pallbearers for col. marcus. in addition to that, he was also involved in helping the israelis get weapons [pistols, ammo, and radios]. i saw this movie whwn it 1st came out, and memories were refreshed. i also visited israel, and went to latrun and up the 'burma road' to jerusalem. to this day, there are the remnants of military vehicles destroyed in battle by the arab forces, which entirely out manned and outgunned the fledgling israeli army. one of the results of col. marcus' untimely death was the mandatory learning of hebrew for all new immigrants, no exceptions! despite all the negative reviews, this reviewer knew col. marcus, and other fighters for the fledgling israeli army. this review refers to the book, the screen version, and the vhs tape. it is worth buying this movie.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A sentimental film,
This review is from: Cast a Giant Shadow (DVD)First off let me say I have been living in Jerusalem now for two years and I saw Exodus before I cmae here but this film in many ways is more senitmental and brings tears to the eyes, despite its Hollywood idiocy, cardboard acting and stereotypes. The cinematography cannot be beaten, the film is shot in the dirty kibbutzim, Jerusalem hills and Negev desert. Although the battles are stylized and the Egyptian tanks are not accurate, the film maintains many accurate aspects. It truthfully shows the non-support given by the U.S to nascent Israel. It also gives many accurate details regarding the Egyptian advance, the battles for Jerusalem, the Burma road and the ALA. It fairly depicts the arab irregulars, and in this many are wrong, the depiction of Israeli organization and Arab disorganization is fairly portrayed. The Israelis are shown to be full of bravado, lacking many military skills, but with much efficiency and zeal while the Arabs are truthfully shown to be made up of a... Read more
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Captures the spirit that founded Israel,
This review is from: Cast a Giant Shadow [VHS] (VHS Tape)Reviewers need to be aware that films of history the sooner they are filmed to the event can often catch the mood/look of the time period better than today with our myriad of special effects but no heart. "Cast a Giant Shadow" does this.
A great war film that shows how technotactically the "edge" on the battlefield goes to those who can get the best mechanical advantage---the Israelis need a main supply route open to feed Jerusalem (I have actually walked these steep defiles) and tries to armor plate trucks and this doesn't work against ambushers waiting for them. This serves as a warning that the U.S. Army cannot make the same mistake of basing itself on restricted to roads, vulnerable heavy armored cars as some seem lusting for these days. David Ben-Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister knows the "center of gravity" is holding Jerusalem (same is true today) in order to have a rallying point for the new nation. He compels Marcus to find a way to win... Read more
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Summary: Regardless of your opinions of the middle east situation, I'd recommend Cast a Giant Shadow, if nothing else to learn about a bit of history you probably weren't aware of (I know I wasn't at all) and to watch a cast of great actors click together.