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BRASS TARGET(director: John Hough; screenwriters: Alvin Boretz/from the novel “The Algonquin Project” by Frederick Nolan; cinematographer: Tony Imi; editor: David Lane; music: Laurence Rosenthal; cast: Sophia Loren (Mara), John Cassavetes (Maj. Joe De Lucca), George Kennedy (Gen. George S. Patton), Robert Vaughn (Col. Donald Rogers), Patrick McGoohan (Col. Mike McCauley), Bruce Davison (Col. Robert Dawson), Edward Herrmann (Col. Walter Gilchrist), Max von Sydow (Shelley/Webber), Ed Bishop (Col. Stewart); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Arthur Lewis; MGM; 1978)
“It wants us to believe that General George S. Patton didn’t die in a car accident, as history says, but at the hands of a paid assassin.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This speculative war drama mystery was both a bomb at the box office and critically. It wants us to believe that General George S. Patton didn’t die in a car accident, as history says, but at the hands of a paid assassin. It’s a tedious film with a convoluted loopy plot that has plenty of star power but nothing else up its sleeve but a poor script and some murky intrigue to wet the appetites of conspiracy theorists and lovers of bad films. Taken from Frederick Nolan’s novel The Algonquin Project and written by Alvin Boretz, while less than so-so director John Hough (“Incubus”/”Twins of Evil”/”Dirty Marty, Crazy Larry”) keeps the film derailed at a less than so-so entertainment level. Sophia Loren has top billing, but has a small part with little to do but be used as window dressing playing a Polish war survivor involved in a love triangle with John Cassavetes and a mystery man. It was shot on location in Burghausen, some 50 miles due southeast of Munich.

In 1945, on the orders of General George S. Patton (George Kennedy), a train of GIs is carrying recovered Nazi gold to the tune of $250 million on a train bound for Frankfurt for safe keeping in its vaults. The train is ambushed by a group of well-planned raiders, who steal the loot and kill 59 GIs. It’s suspected of being an inside job pulled off by Americans who aped a similar train hijacking in Milan pulled off by the OSS leader, Maj. Joe De Lucca (John Cassavetes). A reluctant world-weary De Lucca, anxious to return to his NYC haunts, is instead assigned by the regular army’s Colonel Dawson (Bruce Davison) to track down the thieves, while a raging Patton puts all his efforts into getting the culprits and show the Russian accusers that America will not tolerate such thieves.

It turns out that the architects of the heist were Patton’s own subordinates. The mastermind, Col. Donald Rogers (Robert Vaughn), realizes that the only way to get Old Blood and Guts off his trail is to assassinate him. Col. Stewart (Ed Bishop) and Col. Walter Gilchrist (Edward Herrmann) are the other slimy Allied officers in occupied Germany who were in on the robbery with the help of OSS officer Col. Mike McCauley (Patrick McGoohan). In this questionable film, Patton gets assassinated by a dapper and clever paid assassin (Max von Sydow). The few moments of generated excitement are not enough to recommend this hamstrung film as anything but off the target: brass or paper.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”