1950s Fixed Bayonets! (1951)

Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Chris

3

Fixed Bayonets! (1951)

Review of: Fixed Bayonets!
Movie directed by:
Samuel Fuller

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On March 7, 2013
Last modified:March 7, 2013

Summary:

Torn, torn, torn. Especially cheesy and western-like in places, but in the end, actually makes perfect sense and achieves its goal quite nicely.

Fixed Bayonets! (1951)Iconic director Samuel Fuller brings us Fixed Bayonets!, a film about a platoon in Korea with a dangerous mission... to cover the rest of the battalion's retreat and make the enemy think that they are facing a much more capable foe.

They hold out at a pass, creating a bottleneck that the Koreans and Chinese will have to pass through.  They make their stand here, and its here that all the action occurs.

The movie, though, is not about any of this.  It's about one Corporal Denno (Richard Basehart), who hasn't yet found the strength within himself to pull the trigger on another human being, let alone lead this platoon.  Once it becomes clear that this is what the movie is in fact about, then its like a lightbulb goes off and things finally start to make perfect sense.  But it takes a while to get to that point, actually.  Little hints and shards of whats to come, especially between Denno and the ironically-named Sgt. Rock (Gene Evans, also from Fuller's The Steel Helmet)...  Rock is (of course) the picture of a model tough-guy soldier, where Denno is obviously not.  Their conversations (once you pick up on it) lead into the premise quite nicely.   The "inside the head" bits also get the point across, but I think they would have been better served if the entire squad hadn't had them, but only Denno....

Truth be told.  I was really, really, worried at the start of Fixed Bayonets.  The opening scene in the tent, while maybe painting an accurate picture, seems way too long, difficult and forced for Fuller.  For a good part of the movie, it seems rather ham fisted and amateurish.  I hate to say it, being Fuller and all, but that's how I saw it.  You'll just have to see it to really understand.  Lets just say there are plenty of Hollywood style (again demonstrating Fuller's roots in the Western) heart clutching slow-fall deaths and plenty of cavalry-vs-indians moments....

That's not to say that its great, either.  The combat scenes (and there are plenty of them) at times get a little corny and, well, just plain odd.  Take the bit with the horns.  What?  I didn't really understand why this took so much screen time...

I'm really, really, torn on how to rate Fixed Bayonets.  On the one hand its really not that good, sorry, guys.  Yet once the main objective becomes clear and the character of Denno starts to flesh out... If you're able to pick up on that and follow that through to the end it really makes a lot of sense and works.  It just ends up working.  I don't know any other way to say it.  Like you're sitting there going "Oh COME ON!" for a bit, then "Well, hm, that's interesting" and then "yeah, I get it now...."

So, Fixed Bayonets! gets a 3.5/5.  I really don't like going that high, but I don't feel right going lower.  If that makes sense.

Oh, and its also a curiosity that this movie (along with The Steel Helmet) were made so close into the Korean War....

Luck would show the entire movie up on YouTube... if this disappears please (PLEASE!) let me know.

Fixed Bayonets Fixed Bayonets
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Description

Not your typical star-studded or star-spangled war film, cult-fave director Samuel Fuller's Fixed Bayonets is a viscerally thrilling Korean War drama of one platoon's trial, and one corporal's baptism, under fire...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: BASEHART,RICHARD
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Richard Basehart
  • Gene Evans
  • Michael O'Shea
  • Richard Hylton
  • Craig Hill

Features

  • Factory sealed DVD

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Audio Commentary on this disc, June 5, 2017
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Should be seen with Steel Helmet, not only a Korean War film directed by Sam Fuller, but staring a man who never got screen time Gene Evans. Evans is one of those people, probably mostly forgotten now, but should really get a retrospective. Those who have seen this film, will no what I am talking about when I mention the classic scene with Evans in Fixed Bayonets. Good Audio Commentary on this disc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Greek put that BAR on the other hill!, January 9, 2017
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This review is from: Fixed Bayonets (DVD)
A much forgotten old style war movie. Very good combat scenes. Gene Evans and Skip Homier were very good as supporting characters. Michael O'Shea was good as the tough sergeant. Somehow even in the twenty-first century Richard Basehart seems a little too upper classed to be a dogface. This was also good because they had a Greek enlisted man in the platoon whose girlfriend ran a pool hall in Pittsburgh. "Hey Greek" that's what the guys called him--you were allowed to be politically incorrect in 1951.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty war movie, January 9, 2014
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This review is from: Fixed Bayonets (DVD)
In the early Winter campaigns of the Korean War, American troops were ill prepared, ill equipped and surprised by first, the North Korean invasion and, when the invasion faltered and the North was forced into retreat, the second invasion led by tens to hundreds of thousands of Chinese Army troops. The intervention of China forced the American retreat from the North.

"Fixed Bayonets" is about a U.S. Army unit having to fall back to the South. One smaller unit is left behind as the rear guard, to cover the retreat and give the impression that the larger unit was still in place. The movie is about the men in this rear guard. The heroes, the cowards, those unsure of themselves and those over confident. It's well acted, with many familiar faces. The violence is subdued by modern standards, but with this film the men's struggles with themselves and each other are more important than those with the enemy around them.

If nothing else, "Fixed... Read more
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Fixed Bayonets! (1951) Chris

Summary: Torn, torn, torn. Especially cheesy and western-like in places, but in the end, actually makes perfect sense and achieves its goal quite nicely.

3.5


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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.



3 Responses to Fixed Bayonets! (1951)

  1. I liked it more but I saw it before Steel Helmet, so the standard was lower. Definitely lacks the raw intensity of The Steel Helmet. Part of the problem, or maybe the whole problem, is that it was his first movie for a big studio, so he had to restrain himself, and it shows.

  2. the war movie buff says:

    As you already know, I am not as keen on it as you are. It is a nice effort considering the low budget (which definitely shows), but a big step down from Steel Helmet. Great acting from Evans, who basically will play the same character in Steel Helmet.

  3. Chris says:

    Agreed on all counts, guys. Believe me, I was ready to pan this until it all finally “clicked” closer to the end. If that hadn’t happened…

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