Original film poster
|Directed by||Samuel Fuller|
|Produced by||Jules Buck|
|Written by||John Brophy (novel)
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Edited by||Nick DeMaggio|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox|
|1951 U.S. release|
|Box office||$1,450,000 (US rentals)|
Fixed Bayonets! (1951) is a war film written and directed by Samuel Fuller and produced by Twentieth Century-Fox during the Korean War. It is Fuller's second film about the Korean War. In his motion picture debut, James Dean appears briefly at the conclusion of the film. In 1972, it was the last program to air on WHDH-TV before it went off the air and WCVB-TV launched.
The film is set in the first winter of the Korean War during the Red Chinese intervention. The story follows the fate of a lone 48 man platoon left as a rear guard to defend a choke point, to cover the withdrawal of their division over an exposed bridge. The subplot explores the psychological makeup of the individuals charged with leadership of the platoon, and therein examines the nature of service and valor. Ultimately command of the platoon falls upon Cpl. Denno (Richard Basehart), who has an innate aversion to responsibility for the lives of others.
Roy Webb composed the film's score using two songs.
- American Flag
Music by James F. Hanley
Lyrics by Ballard MacDonald
- Richard Basehart – Cpl. Denno
- Gene Evans – Sgt. Rock
- Michael O'Shea – Sgt. Lonergan
- Richard Hylton – Medic John Wheeler
- Skip Homeier – Whitey
- David Wolfson – Bigmouth
- Henry Kulky – Vogl
- Craig Hill – Lieutenant Gibbs
- James Dean – Doggie (uncredited)
Fixed Bayonets! was the first film of a seven picture deal between Twentieth Century-Fox and writer/director Fuller. Fox had been impressed with Fuller's The Steel Helmet and sought to better the imitations of that film on the contemporary subject of the Korean War.
Having had problems with Fuller's The Steel Helmet, The U.S. Army assigned Medal of Honor recipient Raymond Harvey as the film's technical advisor. Samuel Fuller, himself a decorated World War II veteran, forged a lasting bond with Harvey, who again served as technical adviser in the 1958 film Verboten!. Fixed Bayonets! also included the first appearance, albeit uncredited, of James Dean in a feature film.
Though an original story, Darryl F. Zanuck thought the story of a reluctant corporal's unwillingness to take command was reminiscent of Fox's Immortal Sergeant and Fox ordered a screen credit for the writer of that film.
According to Fuller, the many action films in production made it difficult to hire extras for the opening retreat sequence. A production assistant was able to find some dancers from a musical and after costuming, Fuller had them convincingly simulate fatigue and depression by loading their uniforms and packs with heavy weights.
Though the US 1st Infantry Division did not serve in Korea, Fuller names his General and Regimental Commander after the men he served under in "The Big Red One" Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. and George A. Taylor and named the Regiments as those of his Division in World War II, the 16th, 18th and 26th. General Lesley McNair is also mentioned.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p224
- Fuller, Samuel. A Third Face, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, pp. 272-273.
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