Monday, October 19, 2015

LIVE: The Tanks Are Coming (1951)

                patriotic music  /  no name cast  / story by Samuel Fuller!  that’s a good sign / a narrator tells us it’s the “story of tanks and tankers” / the 3rd Armored Division (“America’s iron fist”) is near St. Lo -  it is piercing the Siegfried Line /  first cigarette – three minutes in / those look like real Shermans / quite a bit of hardware – did the Pentagon cooperate? / realistic tank interiors / they take on a Panther, but the shells bounce off;  they fire white phosphorous to blind it and then flank it to knock it out -  pretty good scene / terrible narration / commander of the featured tank is wounded and replaced by Sgt. Sullivan (Steve Cochran) – he’s cocky; he brings with him his alcoholic driver / they run into a sexy war correspondent named Pat; Sully is a wolf /  Sully plays hard-ass with his crew and does not make any friends including with the unit’s leader / some footage that is fairly seamless /  one of the crew is a German-American – he catches grief (they call him “Heinie”), but defends his patriotism /  a guy plucks a duck – only time in war movie history! /  they run into an 88, Sully charges it and takes it out /  Ike (not Eisenhower) goes to complain to the general about German 88s being better than our 75s;  the general says new 90s (M26 Pershings) are on the way and promises Ike the first one /  Cal attacks Sully who easily beats him up /  there is some fairly good footage of Germans /  Marconi is sent out as a forward observer and calls in fire on his own position;  Pat shows up to interview him and Sully puts him up for a Silver Star /  here comes Ike’s 90!  he is so good he needs no training and takes the new tank straight into battle! /  they reach the Siegfried Line /  under artillery bombardment Sully charges forward and gets stuck on dragon’s teeth – WTF /  Sully borrows a bulldozer to open a breach / the German-American goes into town to see his grandparents;  Sully grows a heart and hugs a dog /  Sully turns down promotion to stay with his crew -  turns out he was not such a jerk after all

ANALYSIS:  “The Tanks Are Coming” (don’t get it confused with the 1941 movie of the same title) is not as bad as you would expect.  It is definitely a B-movie with a no name cast.  The acting is average and typical of this type of movie.  Sully is an interesting and unpredictable character until Hollywood insists he have a personality change towards the end.  Heinie is a different character and probably reflects the fact that in 1951 during the Cold War we were rehabilitating German characters in war movies.  There is some good tank action.  The blended footage is fine.  The effects are surprisingly good.  The plot is episodic and does not flow well which is disappointing because Fuller wrote the story.  There is too much narration.  At least twenty places are mentioned.   The movie tries to recognize the 3rd Armored Division that fought at St. Lo and the Siegfried Line.  The movie does a nice job showing the disadvantages Shermans had when going up against Panthers.  Often our shells would simply bounce off.  The Pershings helped solve this problem.  Unfortunately for Ike, the M26 Pershings were not available at the time of the Siegfried Line breakthrough.  The movie tank is actually a post-war M46 Patton.

GRADE  =  C  

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