Based on a book by Ted Berkman, this is a big, expensive war movie about the explosive career of Colonel “Mickey” Marcus (Kirk Douglas), an adventurous soldier-of-fortune who spent his whole life looking for a cause and got in on every action to find it.
The film follows him through World War II and into the Israeli fight for freedom in 1947. There, a massive task confronts Marcus as he forges an army from the ragged remnants of the slums, ghettos and concentration camps of Europe.
At last, he feels his own men are ready to face the powerful Arab host.
It’s pure formula Hollywood stuff – Kirk Douglas maps out his brilliant military strategy with his shirt open, and the heroine (Viennese sexpot Senta Berger who is incongruously written as an Israeli riflewoman) would rather be caught dead than have to plunge into the thick of battle without her mascara – wrapped up handsomely in Panavision-Deluxe Color.
Guest appearances by John Wayne, Yul Bryner, Topol and Frank Sinatra add to the interest, but Angie Dickinson steals the acting honours. Her portrait of a wartime wife exudes warmth.
The film also features the uncredited movie debut of Kirk’s son, Michael Douglas as a Jeep driver. An Israeli actor refused to perform the driving stunt, claiming it was too dangerous, and Kirk Douglas enlisted his son to fill in.
Col. David ‘Mickey’ Marcus
Abou Ibn Kader
Gen. Mike Randolph