A pivotal moment late in the Second World War occurs as the Germans mount a final massive counter-offensive in the Ardennes. This fictional account based on real events makes for an impressive piece of cinema, notable for its incredible tank battles.
Some find this film overlong and boring. Running at over 150 minutes complete with a built-in five-minute musical interlude, it isn't short. But it is perhaps the lack of gung-ho rousing spirit that puts people off. In fact this is a cold and uncompromising look at the war with no attempt to paint the usual stereotypes or pretend that being on the side of right guaranteed military superiority.
Rather than the usual one-dimensional Germans, we are treated to insightful characterisations that paint a brave and methodical force. Led by a maniacal but surface cool Robert Shaw, young men are despatched to almost certain death. And from a control centre that wouldn't look out of place in a Bond film, a massive attack of new tanks is launched against the Americans.
Led by Robert Ryan, the Americans are disorganised and faced with a situation where only luck can seem to save them. Realising that the German plan relies on them capturing a US fuel dump, a race develops with the Panzers leading an all-out assault with their fearsome tanks.
Featuring a massive amount of war machinery, this is a film of epic scale with exciting battle sequences matched with the cold fear that Robert Shaw generates as a merciless German commander.