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Based on an event that precipitated the end of the Second World War, Battle of the Bulge abandons the gung-ho heroics of earlier Hollywood war epics and attempts to present a more balanced look at the last great German offensive in the war. On one side of the Bastogne you have the American military headed by Robert Ryan, his intelligence chief, Dana Andrews, and the latter's assistant, Henry Fonda, who is convinced the Germans are building toward a winter offensive but can't convince his superiors. On the other side, you have Robert Shaw as a master strategist, leading his German tank corps through a cunning game of cat-and-mouse with the enemy. Although the tension builds as the decisive battle approaches, the real focus here is the dirty details of waging war from crucial tactical planning to the filthy conditions of the soldiers in the trenches.
At the time he made Battle of the Bulge, Henry Fonda found himself at an awkward crossroads in his career. He was now too old to play leading men and not old enough to settle into character roles. He also wasn't happy with the film projects he was being offered, feeling that many of them were beneath him like Sex and the Single Girl and The Dirty Game. In The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty (G. P. Putnam's Sons), author Peter Collier relys Fonda's comments about the sort of material he was being sent in the mid-sixties: "When I read them, I would say, "Are you out of your mind! It's terrible! It's crap!" My managers would set me down and say, "Now look, Hank, you like the theatre. You want to go back. You've got a play you want to go into rehearsal. But you've got to be in a box-office picture that's going to last awhile on the screen."
Battle of the Bulge, unfortunately, was not a boxoffice success in relation to its massive production costs, but since it was filmed in Segovia, it did at least allow Fonda and his wife Shirlee to enjoy a Spanish vacation.
Director: Ken Annakin
Producer: Milton Sperling, Philip Yordan
Screenplay: Philip Yordan, Milton Sperling, John Melson
Cinematography: Jack Hildyard
Editing: Derek Parsons
Music: Benjamin Frankel
Cast: Henry Fonda (Lt. Col. Kiley), Robert Shaw (Col. Hessler), Robert Ryan (Gen. Grey), Dana Andrews (Col. Pritchard), George Montgomery (Sgt. Duquesne), Ty Hardin (Schumacher), Pier Angeli (Louise), Charles Bronson (Wolenski), Telly Savalas (Guffy), Werner Peters (Col. Kohler), James MacArthur (Lt. Weaver).Narration by William Conrad.
by Jeff Stafford