1960s Battle of the Bulge (1965)

Published on April 8th, 2008 | by Chris

1

Battle of the Bulge (1965)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On April 8, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

Battle of the Bulge could have been a timeless classic, but instead winds up on my B-movie list, having more in common with Cavalry-vs.-Comanche pictures than any war movie. At least they got typecast Nazi Karl-Otto Alberty to play a role as the poor German infantry commander wrapped around Hessler's pinkie.

Battle of the Bulge (1965)I went into Battle of the Bulge thinking, "Alright! A nearly three-hour long epic docu-drama on the battle!"

And, unfortunately, I couldn't have been more wrong. I'm not really sure what this movie was supposed to be. When I think of the real Battle of the Bulge, I don't think of the things that were portrayed in this movie. I think of the poor slobs stuck out in the forest freezing their you-know-whats off, practically starving, and being pounded by German artillery.

I don't think of huge, and largely unbelievable tank battles that look like something out of the Revolutionary war. Funny, not until I started writing this did I find that my opinion matched some of the others out there....

...that this was a Western in war-movie clothing. To top it off, the thing is largely dull and uninteresting. We're treated to long and wholly sanitized scenes of gunfights and tank battles, which remind you (painfully) so much of the old western movie cowboy and indian battles. Right down to the over-dramatic and bloodless deaths. If I had a nickel for every schmuck who overacted his death in this movie...well, I'd have enough change for the beer I should have drank beforehand.

To top it off, from what I can tell, few of the events portrayed in the film atually happened. Sorry, guys. Sure there is a visit to the heinous Malmadey massacre, the infiltration by Nazis in GI disguises, McAuliffe's "NUTS" reply... and I suppose they got the strategic aspect of the push more-or-less correct. But the entire reliance on the tank corps. in the film, deciding the entire offensive in one battle at one location, and the introduction of so many fictional characters and situations was just a bit odd.

Not to mention that the entire operation in this movie lasts but a couple of days. Stranger still is Lt. Col. Kiley (Henry Fonda) and his sole observations. Surely not. And I can't not mention the bumbling and out-of-place comic relief (but not that comical anyhow) of Sgt. Guffy (Telly Savales.) His tank's annhiliation, but still drivable, and hey he survives without a scratch!! Um, no.

Sigh. It's just unfortunate I suppose. Battle of the Bulge seems to have been created to appease some sort of studio's need for an "action epic" rather than any kind of factual or believable integrity. I mean, at the very least you could have found someplace that *looked* like it was covered in a foot of snow. Some places in the film did, but most were just merely muddy, and a lot of spots there were still leaves on the bushes. And only at the outset of the picture do we get a feel for the cold and nasty conditions.

I will say that about the only interesting part of the film relates to (the fictional) Col. Hessler's (Robert Shaw) assistant, Cpl. Conrad (Hans Christian Blech.) His falling out with Hessler over the context of the war and how men like Hessler's character are the problem, could have given this picture a lot more depth. Unfortunately it was only briefly touched on, and his throwing down of his rifle at the end should have meant so much more.

Battle of the Bulge could have been a timeless classic, but instead winds up on my B-movie list, having more in common with Cavalry-vs.-Comanche pictures than any war movie. At least they got typecast Nazi Karl-Otto Alberty to play a role as the poor German infantry commander wrapped around Hessler's pinkie.

(P.S.) And what is the deal with the OVERTURE and EXIT MUSIC plates? Yet another aspect of the film that screams it took itself way too seriously! On actually good movies this is awesome.  Here not so much.)

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Description

The German offensive in December 1944 became the basis for this all-star Hollywood take on the Battle of the Bulge. Henry Fonda is an officer who predicts the assault, Robert Ryan and Dana Andrews are Army brass skeptical of his intuitions, and Robert Shaw (his hair dyed yellow and his eyes glinting with malice) is a German officer leading the tank attack...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Warner Brothers
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Henry Fonda
  • Robert Shaw
  • Robert Ryan
  • Dana Andrews
  • George Montgomery

Features

  • Nazi Panzer forces stage a last-ditch Belgian front offensive that could turn the tide of WWII. Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw and Robert Ryan in the spectacular recreation of a crucial campaign.Year: 1965Running Time: 170 min. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre:ACT

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

173 of 186 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New DVD BULGE has all the FAT put back in!, May 3, 2005
By 
Justin Playfair (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Battle of the Bulge (DVD)
The issue of the DVD today has yielded a few surprises. There is some interesting material included in the DVD with the Theatrical Trailer, Interviews with the Director and Robert Shaw and also a short Black and White film is shown on how it was filmed including footage of the German military advisor who insured an accurate detailing of uniforms, events, etc. in this basically fictitious account of the famous battle of world war 2. Now what needs to be said is that this is a polished transfer of the widescreen film. The overture is put back and all of the extras that were usually cut. Including the "Panzerlied" gathering of tank commanders that is sometimes missing from television broadcasts as well as the "save the son but shoot the father" scene. The musical score by Frankel is one of the best made in a war film presentation in a full orchestra by the New philharmonic. They have restored the original soundtrack to the DVD and it is impressive for a movie that was made in the 60's... Read more
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Restored to its Former Glory on DVD, December 26, 2000
By 
Kevin R. Austra (Delaware Valley, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE is a great war movie. It contains everything you could hope to find a cinematic military classic: Action, tank battles, outstanding pyrotechnics, superb cast, and wonderful soundtrack. Before I continue I want to make it clear that movie THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE should not be confused with the historical Ardennes Offensive. THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE is essentially an action-packed cowboy and indian movie with the Americans as the cowboys and the Germans as the indians. If you watch the film with this understanding you will enjoy it much more.

For the first time, possibly ever, the complete film is presented on DVD in wide-screen. Scenes that have been missing for decades have been restored to the film. Now you can see Lt. Col. Hessler marching between the parked rows of tanks, Hessler's introduction to the English-speaking commandos, the Belgian sniper scene, Charles Bronson's confrontation with Robert Shaw in Ambleve, and the lieutenant (James... Read more
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135 of 161 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great picture and audio commentary make Blu-Ray a good buy, September 23, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
BLU-RAY REVIEW
I am updating this review (Dec. 9, 2008) to address the Blu-Ray edition of this movie which I feel is worthy of praise. In addition to a very impressive 1080p high definition picture which has nice contrast, vibrant colors and a fantastic level of detail (just witness the Christmas tree and flags in the first scene between Henry Fonda and Robert Ryan), the Blu-Ray also boasts a scene specific audio commentary featuring Director Ken Annakin and actor James MacArthur.
The two are obviously very good friends and the commentary strikes a nice balance between technical details, preproduction and filming background and friendly chatter. I found it enjoyable.
The Blu-Ray also transfers over the two vintage featurettes and theatrical trailer found on the DVD, but the addition of the audio commentary and the superior high definition picture makes this an easy recommendation for an upgrade from the subpar DVD format.
I read the concerns over "fogging"n some of... Read more
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Battle of the Bulge (1965) Chris

Summary: Battle of the Bulge could have been a timeless classic, but instead winds up on my B-movie list, having more in common with Cavalry-vs.-Comanche pictures than any war movie. At least they got typecast Nazi Karl-Otto Alberty to play a role as the poor German infantry commander wrapped around Hessler's pinkie.

2.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to Battle of the Bulge (1965)

  1. Edward White says:

    Forget it Patton, We don’t need you afterall. We rolled a bunch of oil drums down a hill and destroyed the whole German army.

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