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Interesting but flawed

  • Aug 29, 2010
Col. Mickey Marcus (Kirk Douglas) had just returned home from WWII when David Ben-Gurion and the fledgling Jewish freedom fighters asked him to come to Palestine to organize their forces into a real army. Although he had a wife (Angie Dickinson) at home, Marcus missed the excitement and agreed to help. As the Palmach, Haganah, and other underground groups join forces to fight the Arabs bent on their destruction, Mickey becomes the first general of the new Israeli army.

This movie has the same romance-while-Israel-becomes-a-state plot as 1960's "Exodus," but isn't as successful. Douglas' Colonel Marcus is such a jovial, sarcastic, and über-confident charmer that he just doesn't seem to take the war seriously and makes it look like a walk in the park. Mickey's non-stop wisecracks left me wishing he would cut it out and just talk normally. The requisite battlefield love story with freedom fighter Senta Berger is too predictable and she doesn't have much range as an actress. Casting John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, and Yul Brynner doesn't help matters either as they look out of place and are distracting, although Wayne is likable as an American General who locks horns with Mickey and gradually comes to respect him. Topol plays the only Arab with a speaking part as a bumbling buffoon.

Partially filmed in Israel, the location does help to show the difficulties faced by the army. We see several battles that Mickey actually commanded; there are explosions and a lot of gunfire, but they are virtually bloodless. Col. Marcus was certainly an important, heroic man but this movie doesn't do him justice. 2.5 stars.

Sadly, the star power overshadows a good story.
Interesting but flawed Interesting but flawed

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September 17, 2010
Too bad. Sometimes I am in the mood for a classic movie, seems like I'll have to wait for this sometime on cable. I featured your review, Kona, nice to see some classics show up in our community.
August 31, 2010
Oh, that's very interesting! It's a shame the movie made him out to be a womanizing clown. He accomplished great things. And what a ridiculously tragic end for him.
August 30, 2010
Great review. Col. Marcus was so much more than the movie portrayed. I have an old army friend who served with Col. Marcus in the Berlin Brigade after WW 2, he had very good things to say about him.
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About this movie


Part fact, part fiction, Cast a Giant Shadow powerfully dramatizes Israel's heroic 1947-48 struggle for independence. Both realistic war story and passionate romance, the film centers on the legendary David "Mickey" Marcus. Jewish-American general Marcus is called to the new state of Israel to build an army capable of withstanding its Arab foes.
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Director: Melville Shavelson
Genre: War
Release Date: March 30, 1966
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Melville Shavelson
Runtime: 146 mins
Studio: Batjac Productions
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