directed by: Lewis Seiler

First of two war movie reviews today, hopefully.  Watched this one over Memorial Day weekend, and lately, oof I’ve been getting behind with these reviews.  Slow and steady, but man I’ve got to get on the ball.

Anyway, Breakthrough details the U.S. invasion of Normandy during WWII.  It’s mostly a feel good piece about the army, but with some great character emotion and arcs.  Made 5 years after the war’s conclusion, I suspect it’s one of the first films concerning D-Day and the 2nd World War in general.  … Well, post-war movies at least.

That being said, there’s a bit of dramatization with the actual landing, the troops, and the result.   The invasion itself fails to conjur the same sort of gut-wrenching Saving Private Ryan does, but given the latter movie’s release 40 some odd years later,  still provides some eery similarities.  The troops still load up onto the PT boats from the transport ships, looking frightened as hell; some vomit; many are gunned down on the beach; and there’s still the same frantic chaos of making the way up the beach to the machine gun outposts.  There’s also a great deal more sea/battleship involvement in terms of firepower.    Once safely on the beach, the movie turns gears into basically a lamentation of the futility of roadside-ditch warfare that defined the early French front.   Guys are picked off never having seen the enemy, some survive, some don’t.  The troops finally come to occupy a French town, where the enemy has retreated out of (assumedly), but there still lurks a Pro-German townswoman who snipes one of the most likable characters in the film.  The film closes out with the Sgt. asking out a foxy female officer.  Or at least that’s all I remember at the end.  Oh, and they do the whole, ‘everyone moves up a rank and let’s make the same jokes when we were the old ranks to the new guys’, thing.

Oh, and most of this film uses actual WWII-stock footage (both American and German) intermingled with the actors.   Which at the time, is pretty cool the Army let them use.

Underrated Actors: Frank Lovejoy as the cool Sergeant


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