As I’ve mentioned before, I like a good World War II movie. SAINTS AND SOLDIERS has a few flaws, but overall I think it falls into that category. Set during the Battle of the Bulge, it’s about a small group of American GIs who are taken prisoner by the Germans, escape during the infamous Malmedy Massacre, and then accidentally come into possession of some vital intelligence that needs to be gotten back to the Allied lines. The rest of the movie is about their attempt to survive behind enemy lines and deliver the information.
This is another movie I’d never heard of, starring nobody I’d ever heard of, and made on a low budget. But THE BIG RED ONE proved you can make a good war film on a limited budget without any epic battles. SAINTS AND SOLDIERS looks good and is well-acted. Its problems are a certain by-the-numbers feel to the script (one of the GIs is from Brooklyn, although he does make a point of adding “Heights”, as if the writer was nodding to the fact that he knew having a guy from Brooklyn in a World War II movie is something of a cliché) and long stretches where not much happens except the guys trudge along through the snow.
But the movie does generate some genuine suspense toward the end as the soldiers get closer and closer to their goal. The characters are sympathetic, even if they are overly familiar, and it’s hard not to care about them.
This is an “inspirational” film, but the religious element is very low-key and not much more obtrusive than it would be in a mainstream war film of the Forties or Fifties (which is what SAINTS AND SOLDIERS most resembles). According to some reviews I’ve read, there are a number of historical inaccuracies in it, and although that bothers me in films where I’m very familiar with the subject matter, I’m not enough of an expert on the Battle of the Bulge to notice such things here. And double standard or not, if I don’t know about it, it doesn’t bother me. So overall, I liked SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, and if you’re a fan of World War II films, it’s worth a look.
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