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Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...)

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The Great Locomotive Chase The Andrews Raid 1862
The Great Locomotive Chase The Andrews Raid 1862
by Gordon L Rottman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.09

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent description of an atypical, daring but mostly failed, raid by Northern saboteurs during the War Between States, 26 May 2014
This is a very well written, very comprehensive and very interesting description of Andrews Raid, better known as Great Locomotive Chase, a very atypical and very daring "special forces" operation which took place in April 1862.

The raid was carried by a group of Northern soldiers and two civilian volunteers (including the leader, James J. Andrews), who inflitrated into Confederate territory and on 12 April 1862 stole a train (including the locomotive "General") at Big Shanty, Georgia. The raiders intended to take the train all the way to Chattanooga, Tennessee - en route they were supposed to damage the crucially important railway by removing tracks and burning two most important bridges. It was expected that by delaying the transportation of reinforcements and supplies to Chattanooga, the raid would help approaching Northern forces to capture this important town.

This book describes all the participants (people and locomotives) with great detail and explains really well, why the quick reaction of a handful of Southern civilians and militiamen caused the raid to fail. Excellent and detailed maps and good illustrations, including one-page colour plates of main locomotives participating in the chase ("General" and "Texas"), make this little book a very precious thing.

The one point of criticism I have is that the one and only large two-page colour plate is awful, simply awful, both in the choice of the topic (raiders scattering in the forest after abandoning the "General") and in the execution, which is pathetic...

The raid itself was completely bloodless, but, as they infiltrated the Confederate territory and carried the raid in civilian clothes, eight of Northern saboteurs (including Andrews) were hanged as spies, in accordance with the customs of war (and precisely in the same way as Northerners treated captured Confederate agents and guerillas). Other saboteurs managed to escape from captivity before execution and stil others were exchanged later. This book describes also those events in some detail.

Military men amongst Andrews raiders were amongst the very first receivers of Medal of Honor (this decoration was created in 1861). The Great Locomotive Chase became also the topic of two well known films, silent "General" with Buster Keaton in 1926 and "Disney's "The Great Locomotive Chase" in 1953. Neither of those films however described the execution of eight of the raiders...

Bottom line, this is an excellent book about a very atypical special operation carried by a kind of early "special forces" - poorly trained and lightly armed, but courageous and enthusiastic. A recommended read for all military history amateurs. Enjoy!

Immortal [DVD]
Immortal [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlotte Rampling
Price: 12.38

1.0 out of 5 stars 1) A mutant girl is repeatedly raped by a giant chicken 2) Ultimately she starts to like it 3) The chicken dies. 4) THE END, 23 May 2014
This review is from: Immortal [DVD] (DVD)
This... this... thing, made in France in 2004, is amongst the most obscenely pretentious, ridiculously grotesque and morbidly bad films I ever saw - and I saw a lot of bad films in my life.

I like a lot Enki Bilal comic books and also many of his other artwork (his vision of Earl Dumarest made me kneel in adoration), but after watching this... this... thing, I say it loud and clear: "Sir, stay away from the movie making. No, seriously, put this camera down before somebody gets hurt".

After watching this film I am absolutely unable to say what it was about, but it is all right, because after like 30 minutes I didn't bother anymore - I just wanted this thing to END! The summary synopsis, for what I understood from this... this... thing, figures actually in the title of my review.

I don't think that even Enki Bilal knew what this... this... thing was about. I believe that the whole point was to find a pretext to show some skin in a soft-porn movie, featuring a former Miss France 1992 (Linda Hardy) who never played before or since and therefore can't act but still has the right kind of shapes (and was made to wear some exotic make up to make the whole thing more kinky).

It was probably also a way to get some money from some kind of subventions, because I absolutely refuse to believe that any kind of private sector producer accepted to put some funds into it. This... this... thing actually cost 22 million Euros, just to show some forcible copulation of a former Miss France with a giant chicken!

You can find almost all of this film for free on the internet so if you really want to suffer through it, at least avoid spending you hard earned cash. This... this... thing confirms once more, that every time when French make a science-fiction film, any sapient being should scream like a little girl and run away. Stupidly, I didn't do it...

Warlords [DVD] [2008]
Warlords [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Jet Li
Price: 5.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average war/adventure movie, promising a lot in first 30 minutes but disappointing in the remaining time, 23 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Warlords [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I found this 2007 Chinese film watchable, but nothing more and it is a pity, because it had potential for so much more... Below, more of my impressions, with some spoilers.

This film tells the story of three very different men (one imperial general and two bandits) who meet and conclude a pact of brotherhood in the middle of the Taiping War (1850-1864), an incredibly violent and tragic conflict which caused quite possibly as much as 20 million dead - making it the second deadliest war in the whole history of humanity (only Second World War killed more people).

A big budget super production about such an enormous and destructive war was a great idea - but the result is not as good as could be expected. The film is long and there is not enough story to fill the 127 minutes. Battle scenes are disappointing and we can hardly see on the screen where the heck went the amount of money spend on making this film. Chinese armies of Taiping War were colourful and spectacular - and what we see on the screen is neither.

Because this is a Chinese story there is of course some elaborate intriguing, plotting and backstabbing, but we saw this kind of things already on the screen many times - and they were shown much better. It must also be said that Jet Li is not really an actor - he is a martial arts specialist, and when in a film he is not allowed to kick and scream, he seems as paralyzed as a bird staring at a snake... He got 15 million USD for this film - and in my modest opinion he didn't earn it...

That being said the film has also some merits. Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro are real actors and it shows on the screen. Xu Jinglei is a very attractive woman and even if her screen time is ultimately limited, it is a pleasure to watch her. This film also avoids - very wisely - showing idiotic kung fu which so badly damaged so many potentially good Asian films... And yes, there are some good scenes, although they become rare in the second half of the film.

Bottom line, this is an average war/adventure film, watchable once and recommended for renting rather than buying. Sadly, a really good, epic film about the Taiping War still remains to be made.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2014 1:36 PM BST

Memorial Day [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Memorial Day [DVD] [2010] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Bennett
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 5.23

3.0 out of 5 stars An original initial idea, some honest moments and a rather good ending - but in all a rather average film..., 23 May 2014
I found this film watchable and by moments even quite good - but ultimately I felt a little bit disappointed. Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

Sergeant Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett) is a young American soldier who serves in Iraq with the 34th Infantry Division. Briefly hospitalised for a not very serious injury, he strikes up a conversation with the resident military psychiatrist, Lieutenant Kelly Tripp (Emily Fradenburgh). Even if he is of course aware that this conversation is neither entirely accidental nor completely casual he accepts to play the game and tells the inifinitely patient psychiatrist a story from his childhood, about the one and only day when his grandfather (James Cromwell) accepted to share with him some of his own memories of service with 82nd Airborne Division in WWII. The film then mixes four story lines: Kyle's service in Iraq, Kyle's conversation with Lt. Tripp, Kyle's conversation with his grandafather and the WWII stories his grandfather tells him...

This is a rather well done film, but it is not entirely successful. Quite a lot of what we hear and see is quite clichéd and banal and ultimately seems... quite flat. War time adventures of both men are not very interesting - we saw ALL OF THIS like hundreds of times. In fact the really interesting parts of this film, those which I liked the best are the moments when we see the grandfather struggling with his progressing sickness and slowly overwhelming dementia, brief but clever exchanges between Kyle and Lt. Tripp and especially the very ending which is a kind of post-scriptum of the whole story...

In war time fragments only some elements were really good and original, like a brief scene in which we can see in April 1945 a veteran Waffen SS officer fighting against the Americans side by side with his young son who can't be older that 14... There is also one soldier in Kyle's squad who is a really peculiar and highly entertaining fellow. Fighting scenes are not really good and there is few of them anyway - there is however one sequence of a suicide bomber attack in Iraq which is very honest... Finally, there is a grand total of three good one-liners - not enough to carry the film, but still...

The most precious thing in this film is its respectful and grateful tone, as "Memorial Day" was clearly made as a tribute to all US soldiers who since 1941 served their country and fought bravely, risking loss of life or limb against really horrible regimes and cruel foes... It is also a respectful salute to those people from the Great Generation who are still with us, but who unavoidably wage their last fight even now, as those words are written - and this one can not be won...

Bottom line, this is a honest film, but nor really great. I liked it but I don't think I will keep the DVD. Advised to rent rather than buy.

Fort Apache (John Wayne) [DVD]
Fort Apache (John Wayne) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Henry Fonda
Price: 5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The first and the best film in John Ford's legendary "Cavalry trilogy", with splendid performances by Henry Fonda and John Wayne, 22 May 2014
This 1948 black and white film is one of the best in John Ford illustrious career - and one of the best westerns EVER! Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

The scenario of this film was adapted from a short story called "Massacre", written in 1947 by western author James Warner Bellah. John Ford later adapted to the screen some of his other stories (including "She wore a yellow ribbon" and "Rio Grande") and asked him also to write the scenario for "The man who shot Liberty Valance". The "Massacre" was inspired by two real events, Custer's Last Stand and Fetterman Fight - but as I describe it below, author changed both those stories greatly, by making American officers act as madmen and presenting Indians in a very favourable light...

This film opens what is usually called John Ford's "Cavalry trilogy" - a tribute to US Cavalry fights and labours in Wild West plains in the years after War Between States. The other films in the trilogy, all featuring John Wayne, are SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) and RIO GRANDE (1950). John Ford turned also in 1959 one more film about US Cavalry with John Wayne, "Horse soldiers", about Northern cavalry raid into Confederate territory during the War Between States - and me for one I always considered it as a kind of "prequel" to "Cavalry trilogy"...

The film begins already some time after the War Between States, probably around 1875. A US Cavalry regiment garrisoning an isolated outpost, the Fort Apache, receives a new commanding officer - Lieutenant-Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda, grandiose!), who arrives accompanied by his extremely attractive young daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple, adorable). Thursday used to be a general during war and as virtually everybody in the US Army was significantly lowered in grade after 1865. After holding some important posts and having an exemplary record he expected finally a promotion, but instead he was send to a career-ending backwater post at Fort Apache... Just to be clear - Thursday is a fictitious character.

Thursday arrives therefore to Fort Apache humiliated, mortified, enraged and bitter - and also still in mourning after the death of his wife, whom he misses beyond everything words can describe... He is however not somebody who gives up and therefore he decides to make the most of what was given to him, make his regiment into an elite outfit and especially distinguish himself in battle as soon as local Apache Indians give him the slightest opportunity. Having fought bravely and after commanding a large unit against the Confederates between 1861 and 1865 he has no doubt about his abilities - but he is not familiar with the arid mountains of American-Mexican border and he despises greatly the Indians. Also, as described above, his judgement is somehow clouded by anger, bitterness and grief...

What follows is the description of a very uneasy working relationship between Thursday and his officers, NCOs and soldiers, who mostly are also battle-hardened veterans (and also most of them are Irish), with good battle record during War Between States, like him. His second in command, Captain Kirby York (John Wayne), used to be a colonel. The most senior of the NCOs, Sergeant Major Michael O'Rourke (Ward Bond), used to be a major in Irish Brigade - and was decorated with Medal of Honor, the highest distinction an American soldier can receive (like Victoria Cross most of them are attributed posthumously). Another NCO, Sergeant Beaufort (Pedro Armendariz), used to be a lieutenant, but fought for the South - and therefore is still nicknamed "Johny the Reb" by his comrades (and former enemies).

Three more characters are very important for this film. Sergeant Mulcahy (Victor MacLaglen, wonderful!) is amongst the toughest and the most colourful soldiers in the whole regiment. Captain Collingwood (George O'Brien) is clearly the oldest of officers and as his health weakens, he was postulating already for some time for a post of instructor at West Point - without any success... Finally, there is the young lieutenant O'Rourke (John Agar), son of Sergeant Major O'Rourke, who just graduated from West Point - albeit sons of NCOs were in those times not accepted there, an exception was made for him, as his father won the Medal of Honor.

Even if Thursday is not liked by his subalterns, for most of the film he actually copes with the whole situation better than anybody expected. Ultimately however he will lose it - and what will push him over the edge is what he perceives as the supreme humiliation/betrayal: his daughter, who is the only person who still gives some sense to his life, falls in love with young O'Rourke, a man he considers beneath her and himself. Once he enters in conflict with Philadelphia, he completely unravels and becomes clearly self-destructive and suicidal - and tragedy will of course follow...

John Wayne plays here very deliberately a character overshadowed by his commanding officer - and he does this very well indeed! This film is however mostly about Owen Thursday, portrayed with great art by Henry Fonda. All other actors, the "Duke" included, play just supporting roles.

The character and fate of fictitious Lieutenant-Colonel Owen Thursday are sometimes unavoidably compared with those of George Armstrong Custer and on the surface of things there were similarities - they both were indeed generals during War Between States and both were reduced in rank immediately after (Custer actually went all the way from Major-General to Captain). Also, they both met their fate in Indian Wars and in their final battles both were Lieutenant-Colonels.

Here however the similarities end, as Custer had a huge fighting experience against Indians and, unlike Thursday, he certainly DIDN'T sabotage any peace talks which could have ended the war... He also certainly never despised Indians or underestimated their fighting ability - to the contrary, he was very protective of his own Arikara and Crow scouts and in all his expeditions always listened carefully to their advice. Unlike Thursday in this film, in the war in which Custer died he was NOT the main campaign leader - he was acting under orders and in the limits of the plans decided by his superior officer, Brigadier-General Terry, the military commander of the whole Dakota Territory from 1872 and 1886.

Also unlike Thursday in the film, Custer didn't charge into the killing ground at Little Big Horn as the result of some kind of insanity - he was in fact mostly unlucky that his 210 strong command approached Indian camp at a moment when they manage to assemble, for a short moment, an exceptionally fighting force of at least 2500 braves, something that NEVER happened before or after. Custer was aware that he was facing a large force, because he send scouts before engaging - but clearly the reports were incomplete, because even after scouts returned, he was still completely unaware HOW LARGE EXACTLY was that force!

Finally, unlike Thursday in the film (who acts like a total madman), once the battle began, he didn't do anything foolish, to the contrary, his decisions were clearly rational. The moment he saw Indians with his own eyes, he immediately tried to disengage and retreat - it's just that at that moment it was too late, as he was caught on an open plain and already surrounded by a mobile force ten times larger than his own (and incidentally having also many better rifles...).

On another hand, considering that Indians didn't take prisoners, both Custer's and Thursday's very last actions were the only one available - make a stand and take as many enemies with them as possible.

One final thing must be said here (SPOILER AHEAD): although I read a lot about Indian Wars I couldn't find any case, in which they would spare a small American detachment which they had at their mercy because of the respect felt for its leader. It NEVER happened in real history - this is really typical Hollywod bull...t.

This little point notwithstanding, this is a GREAT FILM, which I recommend with whole my heart. Just don't consider it as a history lesson... Enjoy!

Ill Met By Moonlight [DVD] [1957]
Ill Met By Moonlight [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Dirk Bogarde
Price: 3.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Feldmarshall Rommel won't be in Cairo, but you will be, General Kreipe!", 22 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Made in 1957 and also known as "Night Ambush", this is a good, solid, honest black-and-white British war film relating an almost unbelievable but true story. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

1. The true story

In the night of 26 April 1944, on occupied Crete, a mixed British and Greek commando from Special Operations Executive (SOE) captured General Heinrich Kreipe, one of the highest ranking German officers on the island. Eluding all German attempts to find them thanks to the support of Cretan anti-Axis guerillas and local population, SOE soldiers managed to escape from the island and bring the captured general to Cairo.

Even if general Kreipe was immediately replaced and the whole island of Crete remained in German hands until the end of war, this operation was nevertheless a good propaganda coup and a welcome morale booster for allied cause - it also certainly embarassed, humiliated and infuriated German leadership... Very exceptionally, as the whole operation was bloodless, Germans for this one time didn't take any reprisals against Cretan civilians - making it one of the extremely rare light-hearted episodes of WWII.

All protagonists survived the war and they actually met one more time - in 1972 in Greece, for a special TV show about the whole incident.

2. The film

The whole episode being free of human tragedy and indeed containing some quasi-humouristic elements, it was the right decision for the director to make this film in a lighter tonation than most of true war-time stories. The main protagonist, British SOE Major Patrick Leigh Fermor (played by Dirk Bogarde), who was nicknamed "Philedem" (I am not certain what that means) by his Cretan comrades, is a typical English eccentric, elaborately negligent in his outside appearance, but also perfectly well educated and every inch a gentleman - dashing and fearless he is also so popular that local population makes songs about him... His men, both British and Greek, are highly efficient and well trained soldiers, but in some aspects they look also a little like a bunch of pirates - and they seem to consider this war, at least on the surface of things, like good sport...)))

This film wouldn't be so good without the excellent performance by Marius Goring (he was British and it was his REAL name) who plays General Kreipe, a highly dignified man and professional officer aged 50, who for obvious reasons is REALLY not happy about the whole situation and will do his best to stay civil, preserve his dignity but also give some hard time to his captors... From what I could gather about the real general Kreipe, he was actually not such a bad fellow and even if he fought very hard on the Eastern Front and then went to garrison duty on an occupied island swarming with guerillas, he was never even accused (even least convicted) of any war crimes. Marius Goring portrayed him very well indeed and it really contributed to the success of this film.

If you make an effort, you can notice both Christopher Lee and David McCallum in small cameos - the former playing quite obviously a particularly nasty German officer...)))

There is virtually no fighting in this film, so if you need such thing in your war movies, you will not like this one. A large part of the film is actually about hiking in the mountain wilderness - with some verbal sniping and some quite good jokes, especially about one of SOE soldiers who stubbornly refuses to wash - AT ALL!

This is not some kind of great masterpiece, but a good and I believe mostly accurate account of a true war-time story, one which exceptionally was bloodless and tragedy-free. I liked it and I will keep the DVD. Enjoy!

Appaloosa [DVD]
Appaloosa [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Irons
Price: 3.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Stellar casting + an extremely banal scenario = a very average albeit watchable film, 21 May 2014
This review is from: Appaloosa [DVD] (DVD)
I found this 2008 western watchable, but absolutely nothing more and couple of hours after seeing it I already couldn't remember some details... Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

In 1882 the town of Appaloosa, New Mexico, is ruled by a local cattle-baron named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who doesn't hesitate to kill those who oppose him. The people of the town hire then a wandering lawman (a "town-tamer") named Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy, Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), to end Bragg's reign of terror... It will not be easy, as Bragg has many cards to play, including but not limited to evil henchmen like Ring Shelton (Lance Henriksen). At one moment also a "femme fatale" (Renée Zellweger) will appear and try to drive a wedge between Cole and Hitch.

This is not a bad film, but it is somehow... banal. The scenario is not very good and dialogs are really lame, with a grand total of ONE good one-liner in a 115 minutes movie... Also shootouts are not very good - don't expect any brilliant action scenes. Soundtrack could as well be absent - nothing here that can be measured against some old western music...

The only reason why this film is even watchable is the cast which is indeed stellar: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons (who clearly had the time of his life playing a bad guy in a western!) and Lance Henriksen are always a pleasure to watch, in anything. As for Renée Zellweger, well, I didn't like her much in this film, mostly because I never was a fan of her, in fact quite the contrary - and also here her character is unpleasant and annoying...

Some people suggested that this film is a kind of very distant remake of 1959 "Warlock" with Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn, but I strongly disagree with that. Not even mentioning many other differences, the crucial point is that in "Warlock" it was clear that one of "town-tamers" (played by Anthony Quinn) was a closeted homosexual totally in love with his boss (played by Henry Fonda). No such thing is perceptible here.

Bottom line, this is a film slightly disappointing and rather banal, but still watchable, mostly for the performance of the four main male actors. It is just a pity that dialogs and action scenes are so LAME - with just a little more effort it could have been a really solid, good western. Recommended for renting rather than buying.

Adrift [DVD]
Adrift [DVD]
Dvd ~ Susan May Pratt
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 5.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly silly film about a bunch of morbidly irresponsible morons making unimaginably stupid suicidal things..., 21 May 2014
This review is from: Adrift [DVD] (DVD)
This film, which in some countries is also known as "Open Water 2: Adrift", is one of silliest things I ever watched and has definitely NOTHING in common with the real "Open Water" film. Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

A group of five old high-school friends as well as the girlfriend of one of them and the baby of another go for a weekend cruise on a yacht. At one moment all the six adults will find themselves in the water, with the baby abandoned alone on board - and they cannot climb back... The film is basically about what follows this unexpected development.

The whole situation already doesn't make much sense, considering that six young, strong and healthy people would find a way out of this situation in like five minutes - after all a yacht is not a super-tanker, it is not THAT high above water... But OK, for the sake of the film I was ready to accept that for some reason they cannot make it back to the yacht.

However everything what follows is such an accumulation of human most irrational stupidity that I simply refuse to believe that it is possible to assemble incidentally such a bunch of morons and @holes in one place at one time - you would probably have to make a world wide casting for that... In fact those six people are so impossibly awful AND stupid that it is simply impossible to relate to them - to my considerable shame at one moment I actually started to root for the merciless ocean...))) I just wanted the mother of the baby to survive, but (SPOILER HERE) towards the end I changed my mind even in that aspect...

Actors in this film were all unknown to me and after seeing it I want it to stay that way.

I didn't like this film and I am very glad that I rented it instead of buying. The only reason to possibly see it is if one day you really are in a particularly nasty, vicious, ugly, bloodthirsty mood and you simply feel like watching some annoying morons dying horrible, ridiculous, perfectly avoidable deaths... Otherwise AVOID!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2014 4:03 PM BST

The Killers [DVD]
The Killers [DVD]
Dvd ~ Burt Lancaster
Price: 4.33

5.0 out of 5 stars A great "film noir", inspired by a Hemingway's short story - even if for my taste Don Siegel's 1964 remake was better..., 21 May 2014
This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
I liked this 1946 "film noir" directed by Robert Siodmak A LOT and it was a pleasure to watch two future great stars of Hollywood in the film which started their great careers. Below, more of my impressions, with some very limited SPOILERS.

This film begins with somebody being murdered. A life insurance inspector, Jim Reardon (Edmond O'Brien) is assigned to find and pay the beneficiary of the policy. In the beginning it seems as a completely routine task, but Reardon is bothered by some details and starts to sniff around - and of course, because it is this kind of film, he uncovers some dark secrets from the past, gets in the way of a horribly venomous "femme fatale" (yes, you guessed right - she is played by Ava Gardner), opens a real can of worms and indirectly causes the Mark I BCI (Body Count Indicator) to overheat... Nothing more will be said about the story.

The initial part of this film is based on a short story "The Killers" written in 1927 by Hemingway and you can actually feel it... It is a pretty chilling thing. The rest of the film derives from those events and Hemingway didn't have anything to do with it - but the scenario is still of high quality as it was co-authored by John Huston himself...

The main attraction of "The killers" are of course two leading actors. For Burt Lancaster it was his FIRST role ever - and he did so incredibly well that he immediately became a star! Ava Gardner was trying to make her hole in Hollywood already for some time, as she started to act in 1941, but allmost all her roles until then were uncredited cameos. In this film she got for the first time a real, leading role - and after that she had Hollywood at her feet...

It is worth noting that this film also started the career of William Conrad, who plays a secondary character but still makes considerable impression - for him it was only a second role ever and the first one for which he was credited.

This is an excellent, classical "film noir" and I rate it five stars of course, but I must say that Don Siegel's 1964 remake of this film was, in my personal opinion, even BETTER. That notwithstanding, this is a recommended viewing. Enjoy!

Who Dares Wins The SAS and the Iranian Embassy Siege 1980 (Raid) by Gregory Fremont-Barnes & Pete Winner (2009) Paperback
Who Dares Wins The SAS and the Iranian Embassy Siege 1980 (Raid) by Gregory Fremont-Barnes & Pete Winner (2009) Paperback
by Gregory Fremont-Barnes & Pete Winner
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, from which I learned a lot - a recommended reading, 20 May 2014
On 30 April 1980 six terrorists seized Iranian embassy in London and took 26 hostages. The attackers, Iranian citizens from Arab minority, declared that they were part of Democratic Revolutionary Front of Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA), one of groups fighting for separation of their homeland, Khuzestan province, from Iran. They were without any doubt working for Saddam Hussein regime, as they received their weapons and some training from Iraqi intelligence service.

The terrorrists requested the release of Arab prisoners held in Iran as well as the right to leave United Kingdom to a safe place of their choice. British governement however had no leverage to obtain the release of Arab prisoners by Iran and anyway was not disposed to accede to terrorists demands.

Six days later the terrorists killed one of the hostages, an Iranian diplomat - after that there could be only one answer and indeed, elite soldiers from Special Air Service (SAS) regiment stormed the embassy. Five out of six terrorists were killed and one was arrested. Tragically, the terrorists had nevertheless the time to kill one of the hostages... One of SAS soldiers was also seriously wounded, but later fully recovered.

This book describes the whole crisis and the SAS attack quite comprehensively and very well indeed, with a lot of important (and also some less important but amusing) details. I learned a lot from it.

This anti-terrorist operation was the first of its kind for the SAS and even if it was obviously a success, from this book it clearly appears that there were still serious weaknesses in anti-terrorist tactics, equipement and training. Some blunders were indeed committed:

- the SAS failed to realise that terrorists disposed inflammable materials in many places; as result, in the opening stage of attack they used the kind of explosives and tear gas grenades which set the embassy in fire - which could have had dire consequences...

- at the beginning of attack one of the soldiers managed to get entangled in the rope and was trapped, defenseless, hanging near to a window (and also was seriously burned as result)

- the attack didn't begin simultaneously at all access points - which could have been a problem...

- one of soldiers made noise just before the attack began, warning the terrorist leader

- another soldier forgot to chamber a round in his MP5 - and found himself face to face with an armed terrorist, defenseless... He was very lucky that the terrorist decided to run away rather than killing him... Author actually claims that it was not the case of forgetfulness and that the weapon jammed, but I don't buy it - and if that was the case that would be EVEN WORSE!

Once all those mistakes taken into account, it becomes clear, that to some extent the SAS soldiers were lucky, that at least four out of six terrorists were definitely not very clever and neither were they well trained or motivated - in fact, with the exception of their leader, Oan, and of one other attacker (who murdered one of the hostages, Ali Akbar Samadzadeh, in the telex room), the others were rather the Larry, Curly and Moe of world terrorism...

All that notwithstanding, the SAS soldiers carried the day BIG TIME, especially considering that it was their FIRST real anti-terrorist operation, that they were attacking a HUGE building with A LOT of rooms and that they were facing six terrorists (two more than the Germans at Mogadishu), who had fully automatic weapons, powerful Soviet RGD5 handgrenades and good Browning 9 mm pistols and who at the beginning of the action still held 19 hostages in THREE distinct locations...

As I already said, this is a good book, but at one moment author made a really BIG MISTAKE: on page 19 it is said that the terrorists also had a "Polish-made Skorpion sub-machine gun"!!! Well, it is indeed true that the 7,65 mm vz. 1961 Skorpion is a weapon well liked by terrorists for its small size and massive fire power - but it was conceived and manufactured in CZECHOSLOVAKIA, with some being also produced under license in Yugoslavia, but NEVER in Poland!

Also on the same page author says that terrorists had "two 9mm SMG machine pistols" - and it stops here... I admit that I would really like to know precisely what were those weapons - were they maybe Stechkin pistols?

Finally, even if author tried to avoid giving that impression, from the description of events for me it was clear, that SAS soldiers were under orders to kill the terrorists even if they tried to surrender - and so they did, sparing only the one who was identified when hiding amongst hostages already OUTSIDE the embassy and therefore fully in view of many prying eyes... BUT, I don't mean that as criticism! Such orders could have been issued only by the Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher), I believe she gave them and I think she was DARN RIGHT giving them, because a strong message needed to be send to all possible future wannabees - and it was send by SAS and evidently received 5 by 5 by everybody concerned, because such an incident never occured again in United Kingdom... Pity however that during all the 80 and 90s, in exchange for indemnity from attacks, United Kingdom allowed all Islamic extremists from around the world to live, labour and organise safely on British soil, creating the infamous "Londonistan" - with all the consequences which followed...

Bottom line, this is a very good, very interesting, very well written book, revealing maybe more than author intended - and therefore even more worthy buying and reading... Enjoy!

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