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On 22 June 1944, Dick Ennis, a cynical American war correspondent, lands at Anzio with the Allied invasion forces. Accompanied by Movie (a ranger) and a commando, Corporal Rabinoff, Ennis drives into Rome without encountering any German troops en route or inside the city. When they report to General Lesly, commander of the Anzio invasion troops, he refuses to advance, suspecting that the Germans are laying a trap. Lesly's decision to reinforce his position permits the Germans to organize their defense; and an eventual Allied raid on a strategic village results in the loss of many Allied lives. Though Ennis, Movie, Rabinoff, and five other men escape, they are trapped behind the Nazi lines. Given temporary refuge by an Italian woman and her teenaged daughters, the men discover a heavily fortified trap being laid by the Germans around the beachhead. Of the eight men, only Ennis, Movie, and Stimler return to Anzio with the information. After a bloody siege of 4 months, the Allies finally rout the Nazis and march victorious into Rome. Ennis watches General Carson play the conquering hero, then turns away, saddened and disillusioned by the incompetency that led to so many deaths.