“Tank Battalion” was released in 1958 and played on a double bill with “Hell Squad”. Whatever happened to double bills? Another reason life today sucks compared to in the 50s. TB has the distinction of having three actors that later appeared in the original “Star Trek” series – Frank Gorshin, Leslie Parrish, and Barbara Luna. It is a black and white movie. It opens with piano music. Is this a romance? We are in Korea in 1951 and we are treated to real footage from the war. The footage may be real, but the tank is decidedly not. That is the most spacious and pristine tank interior I have ever seen. Was anyone at the drive-in movie stupid enough to think that was what the inside of a tank looked like? Crew banter: “You know, a guy could get killed in this war”. Thus speaks the comic relief of Gorshin (playing “Skids”). We see the war through the crew’s periscopes. It’s more war footage. The tank is alone and has to return for repairs. The crew talks about dames. Back at their base, Sarge’s girl (Alice – Leslie Parrish) waits – she is hot! Their commanding officer is an ass who has an eye for Alice. Skids is putting the moves on a nurse named Norma (Regina Gleason). “My temperature is rising rapidly”. Egg Charlie’s is the local bar. There is a bar girl named Nikko (Barbara Luna). “Man, that babe is a human atom bomb.” “Give me a shape like that and I would never drop it”. What? One of the crew (Danny) wants to make an honest woman out of Nikko. There is a laughable fight in the barracks. Gorshin does some impressions. The three romantic duos go on a picnic! They have to act this out because they could not find any picnic footage. Instead of ants, they are bothered by commie infiltrators. Danny wimps out and can’t kill a captive, but Sarge does not mind murdering the “monkey” in cold blood. Some other monkeys are sneaking around the sound stage. They stab a sentry because he is looking at a picture of his girl. Idiot! The girls are having a sleep over with their clothes on, dammit. The commies sneak in and … steal some supplies. Commies are gay. Nikko stabs a lingerer. Enough with this stage courtesy of Home Depot. It’s time for Operation Spider. Something about a joint operation to reach the 38th Parallel. It will change the course of the war, naturally. More footage – some of it is repetitive. Did they film anything on their own besides the interior of the tank? They get lost so we don’t ever get to see the battalion of tanks. It’s like they only had one tank to make the movie. This movie obviously inspired “The Beast”! A grenade damages a tie rod and they are crippled. They are surrounded by commies, but worse they have to undergo taunting. They draw straws for who will make a run for the mechanic. Corbett (Edward G. Robinson, Jr. – you heard right) draws the short straw and refuses to go. Danny mans up and Nikko will not be going to live in America. Corbett realizes Nikko is now available and makes the run. He runs like a guy with palsy. This throws off the aim of the monkeys. Why doesn’t the tank fire any shells at the commie machine gun? Corbett returns with the mechanic, but he gets killed. Corbett remembers that he can fix things and repairs the tank. A commie with a flame thrower! Cool. The tank drives off and they hurl a grenade that gets pay back on the bastards. The end. Did they run out of film? Did Operation Spider succeed?
This movie is incredibly bad. Possibly the worst war movie I have ever seen, not counting “Braveheart”. It must have cost a couple of dollars to make. The ladies are easy on the eyes, which is the only plus. The plot makes little sense. A conflict is developed between Sarge and Caswell and then dropped. The dialogue is predictably lame. The acting is horrible, but what do you expect from that cast. It is fun to watch Gorshin, however. And fun to imagine the reaction of Edward G. Robinson, Sr. Junior slept with Marilyn Monroe so he didn’t care what anyone said about his acting.
Grade = F-
P.S. Check out that poster. They are fighting Yankees from the Civil War!