Attack on the Iron Coast
|Attack on the Iron Coast|
|Directed by||Paul Wendkos|
|Produced by||John C. Champion|
|Written by||Herman Hoffman
John C. Champion
|Music by||Gerard Schurmann|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Attack on the Iron Coast is a 1967 Anglo-American Oakmont Productions international co-production war film directed by Paul Wendkos in the first of his five picture contract with Mirisch Productions, and starring Lloyd Bridges, Andrew Keir, Sue Lloyd, Mark Eden and Maurice Denham. The film depicts an account of Allied Combined Operations Headquarters commandos executing a daring raid on the German-occupied French coast during the Second World War. The film is based on the commando raid on the French port of St. Nazaire and is reminiscent of the film The Gift Horse. In the United States it was released as a double feature with Danger Route. In the UK it was released as a double bill with The Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine.
Canadian Commando Major Jamie Wilson plans an audacious Combined Operations raid on the Axis held French port of Le Clare; if destroyed the Germans would be stripped of their only dry dock capable of servicing their large battleships. Wilson's plan, code named Operation Mad Dog, is to ram a destroyer packed with tons of explosives into the outer gate of the dock, while his commandos cause havoc to the docks facilities and garrison, and then detonate the explosive laden destroyer. Opposed to Wilson is Royal Navy Captain Owen Franklin, whose own son was killed on Wilson's disastrous last Dieppe Raid type raid on the French coast at Le Plagé.
Under pressure from Winston Churchill, Wilson's plan is given the go-ahead, even though the naval craft requested for the mission are reduced to a minesweeper replacing the destroyer, no escort craft and only four motor launches. The mission's naval commander Lt. Commander Don Kimberly is blinded in a training accident while trying to save an injured commando, who dies from his injuries. With no other option, Franklin is ordered to replace Kimberly, and thus put him in direct conflict with Wilson on the journey to France. As they cross the English Channel Wilson finds himself at odds with Franklin when the supporting air raid seems to be cancelled, but, to Wilson's surprise, Franklin ignores the order to return and changes his view of both Wilson and the mission.
With a united group heading into the port, the Germans discover the approaching minesweeper and its commando carrying escort of motor launches. After briefly stalling the Germans, by pretending they are German ships, the convoy is bombarded by the coastal batteries which line the port entrance, but fail to stop the minesweeper from ramming the dock gate. As the commandos storm ashore, leaving Wilson on the minesweeper's bridge, it is hit once again, this time though Wilson is mortally wounded. In the port's facilities a running battle rages between the Germans and the commandos, leading to Franklin being captured and taken to the German HQ.
Brought in front of the garrison commander, Colonel von Horst, Franklin is mocked for what the Germans see as a fruitless aim. Meanwhile, a German party led by von Horst's subordinate Captain Erich Strasser boards the minesweeper and heads for the smashed bridge where Wilson barely alive, notices that the detonating circuit is broken. As Strasser enters the bridge, Wilson, with his last ounce of strength places the two wires together, completing the circuit the explosives detonate destroying the dock gate. In the German HQ, Franklin merely grins at the horror on the Germans' faces as the explosion rocks the building before commandos storm the HQ and liberate him, killing von Horst and his men. Franklin and the commandos then depart in the waiting motor launches with their mission completed.
- Lloyd Bridges as Major James Wilson
- Andrew Keir as Captain Owen Franklin
- Sue Lloyd as Sue Wilson
- Mark Eden as Lieutenant Commander Donald Kimberly
- Maurice Denham as Rear Admiral Sir Frederick Grafton
- Glyn Owen as Forrester
- Howard Pays as Lieutenant Graham
- Walter Gotell as Col. von Horst
- John Welsh as Admiral of the Fleet Lord William Cansley
- George Mikell as Capt. Erich Strasser
- Ernest Clark as Air Vice Marshal Woodbridge
Encouraged by the worldwide success of 633 Squadron, producer Walter Mirisch proposed a series of British made films with a military theme having major American stars in the lead that would comply with the Eady Levy requirements and cost no more than $1 million US$. This film was the first of the series of John C. Champion's Oakmont Productions and began shooting in May 1967. The others were Submarine X-1, Hell Boats, Mosquito Squadron, The Thousand Plane Raid and The Last Escape. Each of the films were approximately 90 minutes long making them suitable for half of a double feature and had a Hollywood star leading the cast (Lloyd Bridges in this films case).
Composer Gerard Schurmann used his score as the basis of a 1971 concert work called Attack and Celebration. As with the other Oakmount films, portions of Ron Goodwin's score for 633 Squadron are reused.
- p.204 Mirisch, Walter I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History University of Wisconsin Press 2008