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HORNETS’ NEST (director: Phil Karlson/Franco Cirino-credited on Italian print; screenwriters: from a story by S.S. Schweitzer & Stanley Colbert/S.S. Schweitzer; cinematographer: Gabor Pogany; editor: Terry Williams; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Rock Hudson (Captain Turner), Sylva Koscina (Bianca), Sergio Fantoni (Von Hecht), Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (Schwalberg), Jacques Sernas (Major Taussig), Mark Colleano (Aldo); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stanley S. Canter; United Artists; 1970)
“Overlong, tedious and strident offbeat action-packed World War II drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Overlong, tedious and strident offbeat action-packed World War II drama directed without a buzz by Phil Karlson (“99 River Street”/”The Silencers”/”Kansas City Confidential”/”Kid Galahad”). It failed in the box office because the public found it largely distasteful despite being based on a true story. The 44-year-old declining movie star Rock Hudson takes this role in a second-rate venture when he no longer gets those Pillow Talk juicy roles he had just ten years ago. From now on Rock’s successes would come only through television.

During WW II Captain Turner (Rock Hudson) is an American commando who’s parachuted into Italy to blow up a strategic dam. Turner’s team is wiped out in the jump by the Nazis waiting in ambush and he is the only survivor, knocked unconscious when landing in a tree. He is rescued by a band of Italian youngsters, led by the particularly obnoxious Aldo (Mark Colleano). His motley crew snatch sultry German medic Bianca (Sylva Koscina, Yugoslavian-born actress who replaced Sophia Loren) and force her to nurse the Americano back to health in their hideout in the woods. She’s hardly convincing as a doctor, but she has nice gams. The orphaned youngsters are from a nearby village, where their partisan parents were executed en masse by the Nazis. The boys want Turner to teach them how to shoot their newly found weapons so he could help lead them on an attack of their village where the same Nazis who wiped out their families are stationed and Turner wants them to steal a radio transmitter, and after a tough bargain they agree to work together.

Meanwhile Nazi lover Bianca tries escaping and attacks Turner with a pair of shears, he responds by raping her. Evidently this action makes her warm up to the enemy cause and when the group slaughters the Germans in a surprise attack she joins in, even killing a German. With the revenge part of the deal sealed, the boys help Turner blow up the dam. Aldo, now filled with a lust for blood, goes after von Hecht (Sergio Fantoni), the nasty local German commander, but before he can slay him Turner intervenes and arrests the Nazi officer.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”