The Last Blitzkrieg
|The Last Blitzkrieg|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Arthur Dreifuss|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Written by||Lou Morheim|
|Narrated by||Dick York|
|Music by||Hugo de Groot|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|January 30, 1959|
Arthur Dreifuss directed Van Johnson in a fictional account of the German Operation Greif during the Battle of the Bulge. Columbia contract stars Dick York and Kerwin Mathews also star in the film. Technical advisor to the film was Major John W. McClain who was a company commander with the 23rd Infantry. A novelisation of the screenplay was written by Walter Freeman.
Several American GIs plan an escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp. Among them is a German, Lt. Hans von Kroner, known to them as Sgt. Richardson, who is working undercover, spying on the prisoners and polishing up his American English. Reporting the escape plan to the Camp Commandant, Von Kroner is told he is being removed from the camp as part of a top secret project gathering all fluent English-speaking members of the Wehrmacht for an unstated reason.
Von Kroner is sent to a German castle with others for Operation Greif (called "Operation OK Butch" in the film), where they will dress in American uniforms and spearhead the Ardennes Offensive by committing sabotage, confusing enemy forces, and seizing key objectives for the attacking German forces. Assisting in the training, Von Kroner is assigned a team of three other men with various skills including a Waffen SS Officer, Wilitz, who regales his comrades with stories of his exploits in terrorizing unfortunates whilst a member of the Brown Shirts.
Von Kroner's team's activities and the initial German assault meet with success, but both soon run into unexpected difficulty. Von Kroner's forged orders are countermanded by a decimated American infantry company of the 23rd Infantry that forces them into being replacements, while the bad weather that made the German assault successful ends, enabling American air power to attack the Germans. In their new unit, Von Kroner meets his two fellow American prisoners, Sgt. Ludwig and Cpl. Ennis; they say they were the only survivors of their escape, as the Germans knew about it and ambushed them.
Obtaining plans for an American counterattack against a strategic crossroads, Von Kroner warns the Germans by radio of the American attack but is ordered to stay with the Americans to ensure that the attack fails. Von Kroner's team sabotage a jeep with a bomb, killing the company commander, and attempt to destroy the unit's other vehicle, a weapons carrier, arousing Ludwig's suspicion.
The company attacks a German position with Wilitz using the opportunity to shoot their lieutenant in the back, placing Ludwig in command. Several German prisoners are taken, and Richardson/Von Kroner volunteers to take them to Battalion headquarters. He returns to tell his comrades that the prisoners didn't want to escape; they wanted to surrender to the Americans with Von Kroner taking them in. A furious Wilitz insists that Von Kroner should have shot the lot of them.
With news of German infiltrators behind American lines spreading, Ludwig is further suspicious when Wilitz doesn't know what the American "hot foot" is.
Van Johnson ... Lt. Hans von Kroner / Sgt. Leonard Richardson
Kerwin Mathews ... Wilitz
Dick York ... Plt. Sgt. Ludwig
Larry Storch ... Cpl. Ennis
Lise Bourdin ... Monique
Han Bentz van den Berg ... Major von Ruppel
Leon Askin ... Sgt. Steiner
Robert Boon ... Kirsch
Ton Van Duinhoven ... Hoffner
Gijsbert Tersteeg ... Colonel Eindorf
Brett Halsey (billed as Montgomery Ford) ... Capt. Levin
Charles Rosenblum ... Schwarz
- COLUMBIA SIGNS DONEN, PRODUCER: He Will Make 3 Films as an Independent -- Parleys With Directors May Resume By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 May 1958: 41.
- IMDb: The Last Blitzkrieg - Filmining Locations Linked 2016-03-30