1 September 2002 | Jennel2
For almost two years I successfully resisted renting this movie. That resistance was certainly aided by the cheap looking case of the video, and the fact that director Gordon Hessler is known (if at all) in the US only for a trio of cheap, British, AIP horror flicks, "Scream and Scream Again" being marginally the most watchable of the lot. But the desire to see what Hessler and his mostly American TV actor cast would do with such material, and the need for relief from a recent diet of "serious" indie film viewing, pushed me over the edge to spend the whole one dollar rental fee. Obviously "the Misfit Brigade" is no masterpiece, but it was far better than I expected, and, as others have pointed out, occasionally rises to the level of pretty damn good. I loved, for instance, the sequence in which the misfits watch a Soviet propaganda film projected on a large screen across the front line. I don't know if this ever happened, and if it did, I doubt he films would have had the big studio production values of the one presented. The bordello sequence was also funny, and reminded me of the humor in some of the better Italian westerns. There was also the occasional visually striking shot. I particularly liked the long tracking shot that begins on a Russian peasant coming to a road, then follows a Russian military vehicle through the gates of a compound, then swoops up on a crane to the roof, where a German soldier is observing the vehicle. Then, in subtitled Russian, someone yells, "There's a Kraut on the roof," and we cut to a shot of the rest of the misfits (some distance away) as we here automatic weapons' fire on the soundtrack. This is damn good sequence. I've read in his mini biography here on Imdb, that Hessler worked for Hitchcock's TV unit at Universal before directing features. This long tracking shot is certainly similar to one of Hitch's, and even shares a bit of the master's dark humor. But, OK, this film is not art. It is somewhat choppy (at least in the U.S. video version), and the low budget shows in some of the action sequences. Still, it's a fun little movie if one can accept its limitations. Even David Carradine seems to be enjoying his minor role as an uptight German officer. Oliver Reed is not on screen very long as a pompous German general who arrives at the end of the film to decorate the misfit heros. I cannot agree that his attitude during the air raid which follows detracts from the film's "realism." This is all slapstick anyway, which accounts for the film's final cut, before some graphic violence would have betrayed it's lighthearted mood.