Hell Is for Heroes - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hell Is for Heroes Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 8, 2007
A squad of six US soldiers are ordered to hold a section of The Siegfried Line alone during WWII and so come up with ever more creative ways to disguise their numbers. Hell Is For Heroes was directed by Don Siegel who went on to become one of the best directors of hard-boiled action thrillers around (Dirty Harry being the most famous example) and he shows his skill for economy and gritty violence in this unpretentious and authentic depiction of combat. Steve McQueen shows his star quality as an embittered and possibly shell-shocked ex-sergeant who takes matters into his own hands when they are discovered and his performance is fantastic. In fact the entire cast are great (especially James Coburn who would co-star with McQueen again in The Magnificent Seven), the banter and comedy of the earlier scenes really nicely balanced with some brutal battle scenes later in the film. It concentrates more on the soldier on the ground than trying to sketch out the big picture, showing that there is a thin line between heroism and mental illness and although the climax is a little lacking in closure, it's a powerful and realistic war film ranking amongst the best.
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2010
This tense, gritty World War II drama is heaven for action fans and a riveting performance by Steven McQueen. Director Don Siegel was at his riveting best, drawing the viewer into the claustrophobic, nightmarish atmosphere.
Filmed in stark black & white, Siegel's film succinctly captures the fatal brutality of war, in terms perhaps not as graphic, but every bit as effectively as Steven Spielberg would do some thirty-six years later with his monumental film Saving Private Ryan. There is good dialogue with the GI's - Bob Newhart is real funny.
July 10, 2014
This is a good World War II movie. It's set in 1944 France on the Siegfried Line. They did a good job of recreating the tank traps and pill boxes the Germans had built. In the story an infantry company is sent up to the line to break through after being told they were going home after a short period of Rest and Recreation. Their top Sergeant is played by Fess Parker. This was before the Daniel Boone TV show but after the Davy Crocket Disney shows. He plays a tough sergeant but with a little of Davy Crocket's charm. The star of the movie is Steve McQueen. This was right about the time he was becoming a big star. He plays a combat veteran who is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and had been demoted from Sergeant Major to private. It's implied that Fess Parker's character is an old friend who has pulled strings to get him assigned to his unit instead of being sent to prison. When this movie was made Viet Nam was not yet in the news and World War II vets were about the same age as the veterans of the First Iraq War are now. Many of the actors in this movie are too old to be playing World War II soldiers. The one exception is Bob Newhart who plays a comic role as a rear area office worker who gets lost and winds up on the front lines. This was his first movie and he's very young when this movie was made. In the movie when a small squad of soldiers wakes up in the morning they find that the rest of their company has moved to a different section of the front and they have been left behind. Fess Parker shows up and tells them that they were left to defend the gap in the line and reinforcements would arrive the next day. They can't let the Germans know that they are outnumbered. The rest of the movie is the story of the strategies they used to fool the Germans for the next 24 hours. The movie is a good tribute to the World War II Vets without the rah-rah for our side dialog from war movies from the 1940's and early 1950's. I first saw this movie on TV when I was a teenager. At the time I was a big Daniel Boone and Fess Parker fan.
December 31, 2009
Generally routine war story, notable for a good and unusual cast. I am sure it was meant to be a more significant film than it turned out to be. Steve Mc Queen is not at his best, he is too melodramatic and intense, He definitely overdoes it. All in all though, it's decent. Well filmed. I wasn't too impressed with the sets.
January 6, 2009
This has a great cast and is pretty effective for something that looks more like a jacked up television production.
½ January 31, 2008
Ruthless battle action glorifying the US Infantry against Nazi forces in WW2. Based on actual battle reports from the infamous "Murder Ridge" on the notorious "Sigfried Line". Director Siegel does his best with a strong cast of current and future greats even though he has to bow to studio pressures and slip in some comic relief via Superstar crooner Bobby Darin and urbane Bob Newhart. James Coburn is a standout here, showing his toothy handsomeness against "Flint" type as a low key mechanic who goes ape-nutso in the infamous flamethrower scene, and Big Fess Parker is convincing as the Top Sergeant, plus egotist actor Nick"The Rebel" Adams typically tries to steal as many scenes as he can. Mike Kellin makes the most of his doomed character, and Siegel uses the Hitchcockian "God" camera angle to it's most terrifying effect in his death scene, shockingly realistic. The final panoramic battle scene was incorporated from an actual Army training exercise, so there is the proverbial "cast of thousands" being put to use here, no phony CGI. McQueen's characterization of the stripped-of-his- stripes-Butcher-knife carrying "Reese" is compelling, as a war-lover who, as the irascible Captain haplessly describes as not being able to understand a soldier "Who cracks up when the pressure is off". Reese lives for the adrenaline rush of combat. He drinks and whores enough to be a screw up when not "on the line" killing the enemy. I saw this film as a kid with my Korean War Veteran uncle who gave it a thumbs up and I'm sure it helped shape my persona somewhat, so it remains a nostalgic favorite of mine and an overlooked McQueen performance arguably as strong or even better than in "Bullitt", 'The Great Escape" or "The Sand Pebbles", because unlike those other roles, "Reese" is 110% hardcore. His only weakness is booze & cheap broads. It's obvious Reese was a killer long before he volunteered for the Army, (probably to stay out of prison), which is why he can't keep his stripes. Although this film has it's flaws (Even "Citizen Kane" is not 100% perfect) this is still seriously worth some buttered popcorn time for movie buffs with an open mind, who can appreciate one of the better examples of the "War Is Hell" (& "Badass MoFo') genre...
½ June 5, 2007
A group of soldiers use several gags in an attempt to try and convince a line of Nazi's that they're a lot bigger than they really are. Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Bob Newhart in his first film all star. Obvious stock footage, bad sound voicing every time someones killed and several deaths with no spray of bullets make this film comedic which unfortunatly was not intended.
February 17, 2007
Great action and drama movie. Another great movie with Steve McQueen as well with James Coburn, Fess Parker, Harry Guardino, and Bob Newhart. Producer Henry Blanke went through several report of american WWII actions on which the movie was basis on. Bob Newhart unusual comedy part was good. Bob Newhart's monodialog on the field phone was great. "Hell is for Heroes" is a great action and drama movie. It is a war movie classic.
July 3, 2015
not quite there but the talent of the vast/potential for greatness is clear
½ January 30, 2015
If you see my wife...don't tell her it was like this!

A small squadron of GIs are asked to hold a pass from a group of incoming German troops. Morale is low because the troops anticipated going home and matters aren't helped by a rebellious soldier being added to the group. The German infantry are in greater numbers then they anticipate and the soldiers will have to decide to follow leadership or the rebel. The rebel's plan seems like their only hope for survival.

"He had a great system, Sarge; he just never worried about anything."

Don Siegel, director of Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Shootist, No Time for Flowers, and The Verdict, delivers Hell is for Heroes. The storyline for this picture is better than average and fun to watch unfold. The script was okay and the character development was better than average. The cast delivers good performances and includes Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Bob Newhart, Bobby Darin, Fess Parker, and Harry Guardino.

"He wouldn't."
"Wanna bet?"

I came across this on Netflix and had to give this Steve McQueen picture a viewing (I'm a fan of his work). Overall, this was very average and just okay, but the character interactions were solid and the end was very intense and fun to watch unfold. I would recommend giving this a viewing but I did not feel it was a classic.

"That's what makes a good soldier, you're very observant."

Grade: B-
January 12, 2015
Dated but still works because of McQueen's amazingly solid acting and screen presence that lifts it from the mundane. Bob Newhart offers comic relief with a one sided phone conversation. Worth watching on a slow evening.
May 17, 2014
Just watching this now and cannot understand how its gotten such high reviews. Its shite. It stupid and I dont even know if I am meant to take it seriously. Its ridiculous.. I was expecting a proper serious war movie but this is a farce and looks like it cost 2 euros to make (last 10mins aside).... oh and Homer is a ridiculous character as is Corby... actually they all are. Visually the fighting scenes at the end look good and the last 10mins are good but the build up is very poor and so is the acting / script... Only gets going towards the very very end.
½ December 7, 2012
Although featuring fairly good acting, Good action considering the time of the film and an original screenplay as well as Steve McQueen and good cinematography, the general lack of stimulis and ridiculously slow pacing as well as the thin plot refrain from letting Hell Is For Heroes hold itself together as a movie and just becomes a series of black and white shootouts.
February 10, 2011
Very interesting story. Good cast as well. Movie was too short for my liking at 89 minutes. Could have developed the story some more.
½ December 1, 2004
August 22, 2005
Generally routine war story, notable for a good and unusual cast. I am sure it was meant to be a more significant film than it turned out to be. Steve Mc Queen is not at his best, he is too melodramatic and intense, He definitely overdoes it. All in all though, it's decent. Well filmed. I wasn't too impressed with the sets.
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