Jumbled but Interesting

Stranded American soldier Rock Hudson leads a rebel gang of kids against the Nazis in Italy.

That's the quick summary of things. It plays out a bit like Lord of the Flies meets Platoon.

Okay, here's the longer version: the soldier was the lone survivor of a parachute team that was to blow up a dam. The children find him unconscious. He fails to wake for some time, so they trick a woman doctor to come out to help him, and then keep her captive afterwards. The kids are led by Aldo, who is fairly ruthless in his exercise of power, and bloodthirsty in intent. They end up trading arms training in exchange for helping the soldier.

The Doctor is way too flighty and hysterical for someone who treats patients. Swap this one with the one from China Sky and the character might work.

There's also a Nazi officer who has it out for this ragtag team. He gets his shoeshines, and some false information, from Aldo, who tells him to "just remember me when it's all over". As the most obvious antagonist, he's fairly remote from the action for the most of the film, but he's more of a figure than a true villain here.

There are some very weird things that happen in this film. Almost nobody is a true innocent here, and some of the ways it unfolds are not what we expect of a movie. A rape scene, while only implied as films of the time would do, is given a strange, almost casual treatment, and seems to have little effect on the film overall. There are moral implicationss all around this film, jumbled together ambiguously. It's okay that these statements are not dramatized as much as a more modern film would have it, but at the same time the filmmakers are trying too hard, slyly pointing all the time that they're saying something significant without actually saying it.

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