Hell Is for Heroes (1962) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hell Is for Heroes (1962)

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Don Siegel's only war film and unfortunately his only teaming with Steve McQueen, an actor whose rebellious persona jibed well with the director's vision, it puts the star in the familiar role of antihero. His character, Reese, is an embittered G.I. who has just been sent back to join his war-weary unit holding down a position opposite a pillbox on the Siegfried Line in Belgium. Recently demoted back to private from staff sergeant for drinking, he chafes under all authority, and is a pariah to fellow grunts, despite their awareness of his extraordinary courage in battle. A natural leader, he persuades his sergeant (Harry Guardino) to implement a plan he's formulated to keep the Germans at bay by making them believe that the small outfit is larger than it is. While this is temporarily effective, Reese knows that it's only a matter of time before the enemy discovers the truth, and takes it on his own authority to lead an attack on the well-defended pillbox, although his unit has been assigned only to hold their ground.

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Cast

Bobby Darin
as Pvt. Corby
Fess Parker
as Sgt. Pike
Bob Newhart
as Pvt. Driscoll
Harry Guardino
as Sgt. Larkin
James Coburn
as Cpl. Henshaw
Mike Kellin
as Pvt. Kolinsky
Joseph Hoover
as Capt. Loomis
Bill Mullikin
as Pvt. Cumberly
L.Q. Jones
as Sgt. Frazer
Don Haggerty
as Capt. Mace
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Critic Reviews for Hell Is for Heroes

All Critics (6)

A fairly-routine WW11 action-packed film.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Hell Is for Heroes

½

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-

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

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.

Donald White
Donald White

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.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

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