Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Chris3
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.
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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 InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
- Richard Basehart
- Gene Evans
- Michael O'Shea
- Richard Hylton
- Craig Hill
- Factory sealed DVD
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.