9 July 2013 | Theo Robertson
Political B Movie
1948 and US agent Whit Corbett is given a mission to track down Nazi war criminal Martin Brunner . It is believed Brunner has fled to French Indo-China to join the French Foreign Legion . The French meanwhile have a problem in the country where the Viet Mink are waging a war of national liberation
In order to get the best out of this film it's necessary to suspend all disbelief . We're given a short history lesson on the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial where 30 Nazis were found guilty of crimes against humanity - all except one Martin Brunner who has disappeared from the surface of the planet and the entire resources of American , British and French intelligence have no luck in finding . Their task isn't helped by the fact he hasn't been photographed since 1935 and as agent Corbett finds out there's a good reason : " After Hitler and Himmler Reicher was the third highest ranking Nazi . All this leads to a couple of serious questions
1 ) Have the allies tried looking in South America where all the real life Nazis like Josef Mengele and Adolph Eichmann were hiding
2 ) Hitler and Himmler or indeed any other Nazi didn't mind being photographed so why is Brunner different ? No doubt he looked in to a crystal ball and saw he'd be a fugitive so decided to forsake any photo opportunities . Either that or the film wouldn't have worked but you do get the impression the producers could have come up with a better way round this plot point
As it stands the film plays out almost as much as you expect it with the American good guy and a Nazi bad guy who conveniently has met Brunner joining the Legion at exactly the same time . It does play up to the myth that erstwhile Nazis joined the Legion to escape from war crimes . There is some truth in this but the truth of this myth in painfully over stated such as in novels The Devil's Guard by George Robert Elford which purports to be a true story but was very quickly debunked . Perhaps ROGUES REGIMENT is the one piece of fiction that started off the myth ?
An uneasy mix of war movie and film noir with a political slant it's not a very good film in its own right but one thing that is fascinating is the politics . The French are fighting the native population and they're portrayed as being communist stooges . There's also a scene where a French officer studies a wall chart on Viet Minh tactics but later on there's a scene where a Viet Minh leader states that " My friends ? Huh The Viet Minh are not such easily fooled , we may free our selves from [ our French masters ] only to be devoured by the red ones " and this astonishing and prescient line could have changed the whole course of history where Vietnam would 25 years later would have been an obscure exotic country rather than a metonym of bloody folly followed by inglorious defeat