Review: Anzio! -Losbarco di Anzio (1968)

Anzio! -Losbarco di Anzio (1968)

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk, Duilio Coletti | 113 minutes | drama, history | Actors: Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk, Robert Ryan, Earl Holliman, Mark Damon, Arthur Kennedy, Reni Santoni, Joseph Walsh, Thomas Hunter, Giancarlo Giannini, Anthony Steel, Patrick Magee, Arthur Franz, Tonio Selwart, Elsa Albani, Wayde Preston

‘Anzio’ is a middle-of-the-road war film set during the Second World War. We follow the allies and war journalist Dick Ennis (Robert Mitchum) during the dangerous and feared landing at Anzio, an Italian coastal town about fifty kilometers south of Rome. Once there, the town turns out to be deserted and the army can land without any problems. Did the Germans retreat or is it an ambush?

Ennis takes the plunge and charters a jeep, with which he leisurely drives into Rome. When he comes back and tells that there is “no German between Anzio and Rome!” can be found, General Jack Lesley (Arthur Kennedy) has the ability to take Rome without a fight. However, the commander doesn’t want to believe it; the troops dig in to prepare for a later attack. What they don’t know is that this gives their enemies exactly the time they need to regroup. When the Americans then go inland with a battalion, the Allies stand no chance if they are ambushed by the German army. The film then focuses on reporter Ennis, who manages to escape with a handful of soldiers and must survive. It’s a tough and long road back to safety, with only a few surviving.

A refreshing angle: Ennis turns out to be a pacifist with a critical view on war, who constantly asks himself why people continue to wage war. For much of the film he refuses to take part in the violence of war, but in a moment of life and death he is forced to shoot an opponent. After this, the protagonist answers the question of why war is being waged by stating “that people just love it”. At the end of the film, Ennis sees the Allies’ victory in Rome and then concludes that nothing has changed, “just the uniforms.” These words contrast with the entertaining action scenes and some spectacular exploits. It remains unclear what the film wants to say about the war.

‘Anzio’ has become a typical Hollywood production. A story based on historical events is nothing more than a standard war film with a number of impressive fight scenes, cliché dialogues and a romanticized (American) war hero. The slightly confusing (anti-)war message is a welcome change in the genre, but at the same time it diminishes the credibility of the main character. All in all, this makes the film a bit messy and meaningless. ‘Anzio’ isn’t one of the best war movies ever made, but it’s certainly not the worst either.

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