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This rare dramatization of the French side of the Vietnam War benefits from some exciting battle scenes combining Warner-Pathe newsreel footage of the fall of Dienbienphu and battle scenes shot at the Janes Ranch in Conejo, CA. But it also offers a decidedly one-sided account of the French defeat there, reflecting the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s. The spoken prologue compares the Battle of Dienbienphu to fall of the Alamo and the British evacuation at Dunkirk. An early confrontation between French general Arnold Moss and captured Chinese officer Phillip Ahn clearly identifies the enemy not as the Viet Minh, but international Communism. Little is said of the fact that the French defeat, with massive casualties before and after the surrender, helped inspire the nation to withdraw from its former colony. For all its jingoism, the film has its charms, particularly in the performances of an international cast including Jacques Sernas, who would return to Warner Bros. a year later to play Paris in Helen of Troy (1956), MGM character actor Kurt Kaszner and Peter Van Eyck as a German member of the French Foreign Legion out to redeem his country after forced service in World War II.
By Frank Miller