Big Hollywood studio movies about World War II grew increasingly cynical during the 197os. WALKING TALL director Phil Karlson made HORNETS NEST, in Italy with Rock Hudson, Sylva Koscina, and Sergio Fantoni, showed what could happen when orphaned juvenile delinquents entered the fray with machine guns and an attitude. Hudson starred as an Army Captain sent to destroy a dam, but the Germans ambush his men after they parachute into enemy territory and wipe them out, so only the Hudson character survives. Meanwhile, the Germans wipe out an entire village of men and women, more specifically fathers and mothers as the partisans and the sons and daughters watch the massacre from afar. The children swear vengeance and rescue an unconscious Army officer before the Germans can take him prisoner. They abducted a female German surgeon to supervise his recovery because they want him to teach them how to use a cache of weapons and pay the Germans back with interest for slaughtering their sires. Initially reluctant, the Army officer realizes that he must accommodate these revenge-bent juveniles if he is going to use them to complete his mission. HORNETS NEST beat the John Wayne western THE COWBOYS to the punch. Since Wayne cannot find any adult cowpunchers to herd his cattle to market, he has to settle for school-age youngsters, literally cowboys, to drive his steers to market. Along the trail, these youngsters grow up and get handy with six-guns, eventually tangling with a gang of rustlers that kill Wayne. Clearly, cynicism is at work in both films as children are indoctrinated into a culture of violence and bloodshed. The amoral quality of the storyline can be measured in the reluctance of the protagonist to train children in the ways of violence, so much so that by the end, he smashes all the weapons that they used against the enemy. The Ennio Morricone theme music with its whistling motif is brilliant. Fantoni is the German officer who knows what the kids are going to destroy and he has to shoot one of his own officers to try to stop the pint-sized raiders.