• Movies 4 You: Timeless Military Collection

    Released by: Timeless Media
    Released on: September 24th, 2013.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Various
    Year: Various
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    The Movies:

    Timeless Media have been delivering quite a few of these budget sets lately with different themes. This is a war one and it's a severely mixed bag.

    1958's TANK BATTALION is the dog of this litter. Despite the presence of Frank Gorshin (The Riddler in the 60's BATMAN tv show) as a wisecracking machine gunner, this one just drags. It's set during the Korean War and has some sort of nebulous plot centering around a tank unit making a crucial push into enemy lines that end up getting ambushed. What hurts this B&W outing is the overuse of stock footage that blends poorly and the cheapjack sets. None of the soldiers are all that interesting and you don't get any real action screens until the thing is three quarters over - but you do get a lot of inane subplots involving nurses and other nonsense. Lame.

    HELL RAIDERS is actually worse. This was a Larry Buchanan feature for AIP that was retooled into a TV movie. The two main actors (John Agar and Richard Webb) are way too old for their roles and this one has even more inept romantic subplots. The action centers around some quarter-assed mission behind enemy lines with a desperate squad in Italy during WWII featuring super cardboard fifth rate DIRTY DOZEN knockoffs. The fact that the iconic Lee Marvin classic was a huge hit the year before clearly had an influence in funding this mess. It's in color though - if that helps.

    Next up we have LOST BATTALION and this is where things pick up. Helmed by Filipino exploitation legend/workhorse Eddie Romero it suffers from a bit too much stock footage but it's integrated fairly well and after the first 30 minutes we actually get some good location shots - unlike many of these poverty row war films. This one is actually more of a legitimate romance than a typical war film but don't let that put you off. Young woman Diane Jergens is rescued from bandits by guerrilla fighter Ramon (Leopoldo Salcedo) who is helping the Americans against a marauding Japanese squad in the WWII pacific theatre. Once she's under the protection of the hot-blooded Ramon his band of men are are focused on a mission to rescue some stranded American refugees and get everyone back to a submarine waiting on the coast. The whole "ring of steel" tagline is kinda OTT but this one has some decent chemistry between the interracial lovers and some fun but ridiculous action. There's a bit involving a cobra that is quite amusing and the location shooting is up to snuff.

    Lastly we have 1951's B&W GO FOR BROKE! which is sadly the best film in the set and the worst - by far - transfer. This is the story of the 442 regiment in WWII - which was a Japanese-American squad. Van Johnson plays American Lt Grayson who is charge of this group. While most Japanese Americans were in interment camps at this time, these young men were allowed to volunteer for the armed forces as a way of "proving" their patriotism. Grayson starts the film spouting off the typical racist attitudes of the day as he preps his men for their Italian mission (interestingly the squad never fought in the pacific theatre even though most of the soldiers wanted to) but ends up with a lot of respect for them by the end. This was a "message" film in it's day but it should be commended for being bluntly truthful about the grotesque treatment of Japanese Americans at the time. The interment camps are plainly discussed and the heroism of the 442 is nicely displayed. The actors are largely comprised of actual 442 veterans so while many of them aren't great performers they do have a great deal of authenticity on screen. The final third delivers some action however. This is an interesting historical piece that was even nominated for a couple of Academy Awards.


    Despite what the case says two of these films are actually anamorphic widescreen - the weak TANK BATTALION and the decent LOST BATTALION. Buchanan's grim entry looks ok and has decent color saturation and since it was done for TV the fullscreen aspect ration is correct. GO FOR BROKE! however is simply a really poor transfer. There is no crispness at all to the image and it's fuzzy at times to boot. This is a throughly ropey VHS dupe. TANK BATTALION - the other B&W entry looks far better. Romero's LOST BATTALION doesn't have as good color as HELL RAIDERS but it is passable. All told, these transfers are about the same kind of mixed bag you'd expect to find on a public domain set.

    Audio is very average mono on all films with varying degrees of age related damage. Pops and crackles and mild dropouts make periodic appearances along with some volume fluctuations but I didn't miss any important dialog. The tracks get the job done - but be prepared to crank up the volume in a few spots.

    Extras? Not a one. But what did you expect at this MSRP?

    The Final Word:

    With 2 out of the 4 films being worth a look and at the price this goes for I'll give it a reserved recommendation. Obviously for war film buffs, this is an inexpensive chance to see some lesser known entries. Too bad the best film has the weakest transfer.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Thanks for the review, this one snuck by me. I would get this for GO FOR BROKE! alone if it was a decent looking version. I like the film a lot - also, Van Johnson is probably my favorite actor for war films, something about him typifies the average Joe so very well. What a shame about the transfer.