In this pre-Pearl Harbor recruiting poster, colonel's estranged son Bill Burke, football hero Donald Morse, and hillbilly Jeff Hollis enlist in the paratroopers. Their training at Fort ... See full summary »
After violently attacking a fellow officer Lt. Edward Garnett, cavalry Captain Kern Shafter is court martialled. Later, he rejoins the army with Custer's regiment at Fort Lincoln, Dakota, becoming a sergeant, where he runs into his old foe.
A bottle of Scotch carried by WW2 veteran Captain Sam MacKenzie of the U.S. Marine Corps provides the 'glue' that keeps this story together. Its value rests squarely in its symbolism - a good-luck charm and an object of hope, as well as loyalty. The bottle of Scotch itself was received by Sam MacKenzie in 1942, during a furlough home from the Pacific War. It was supposed to be enjoyed by Sam and his fiancee, Anne but was saved by the two of them for a happy reunion after the war. It's now 1950, at the outset of the Korean War and Captain Sam MacKenzie, commander of the Easy Company, still carries his Scotch bottle with him, as a good-luck charm. The story-line flashes-back to several instances when Sam almost opened his Scotch bottle. During the savage fighting in winter-frozen Korean Peninsula, Sam has to keep his company together while the enemy harasses the United Nations forces during a temporary retreat. At numerous times, Sam is tempted to open his Scotch bottle to either ...Written by
Korea, 1950: the Chinese have just joined the war. John Payne's company of marines is ordered to march parallel to the main force, covering their retreat to the sea. It's a gloomy, snowy fighting retreat, no walk in the sun.
Allan Dwan's 402nd is a tough war movie shot in the wintery Sierra Nevada, with a bottle of Scotch whiskey linking back to San Francisco, where Payne's girl, Mona Freeman gave him the bottle in 1942, telling him to save it for an important occasion. It's an important bit of relief, providing some emotions to counterpoint the tough fighting scenes.
Both Payne and Dwan were near the ends of their big-screen careers. Dwan would make five more movies through 1961. Payne four more over the next couple of years, and an outlier in 1968. Payne's career had begun in the middle of the 1930s, and for a decade or so, he played the handsome leading man, often in Fox musicals starring Betty Grable. In the latter half of the 1940s, he had moved into tough-guy roles, first in film noir, then in war movies as the increasingly grizzled veteran. In this one, he has a mix of half-misfits to lead, under conditions that cut his company to a couple of dozen wounded and exhausted men; the actors certainly look the parts, including Peter Graves as a lieutenant, Chuck Conners as his leading sergeant.
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