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FIRST TO FIGHT (director: Christian Nyby; screenwriter: Gene Coon; cinematographer: Harold Wellman; editor: George Rohrs; music: Fred Steiner; cast: Chad Everett (Jack Connell), Marilyn Devin (Peggy Sanford), Dean Jagger (Lt. Col. Baseman), Bobby Troup (Lt. Overman), Claude Akins (Capt. Mason), Gene Hackman (Sgt. Tweed), James Best (Sgt. Carnavan), Norman Alden (Sgt. Schmidtmer), Bobs Watson (Sgt. Maypole), Ken Swofford (O’Brien); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: ; producer: ; Warner Bros.; 1967)
It plays the patriotism card. The low-budget pic never moves beyond being a watchable superficial B movie.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine WW II drama effectively directed by Christian Nyby(“The Thing From Another World”/”Six Gun Law”/”Operation CIA”). Gene Coon flavors it with a romantic story while testing a hero’s courage to fight a war again after marriage.

Marine Sgt. Jack Connell (Chad Everett) is the lone survivor in a battle in Guadalcanal in 1942 and wins the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics. As a reward he’s promoted by his commanding officer Lt. Col. Baseman (Dean Jagger) to a 2nd Lt. and sent home to go on a war bond tour with other military heroes. He courts his attractive PR tour guide for the heroes Peggy Sanford (Marilyn Devin) and marries her. Jack eventually lives on an Army base and trains recruits for combat as a drill instructor. When Jack learns his war buddy marine is killed, he volunteers for combat. Peggy reluctantly releases him from his pre-marriage promise not to volunteer for combat duty. On Jack’s first mission, he returns to the Pacific and freezes in combat from fear. But soon he overcome his fear and once again becomes a warrior. Jack wins the men over again when he leads them on a risky raid on a heavily fortified Japanese island.

The low-budget pic never moves beyond being a watchable superficial B movie, as it noisily plays the patriotism card.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”