This week’s mystery movie has been the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Fixed Bayonets!” with Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, Michael O’Shea, Richard Hylton, Craig Hill and Skip Homeier.
The film was written and directed by Samuel Fuller from a novel by John Brophy. It was photographed by Lucien Ballard, with music by Roy Webb, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and George Patrick, set decoration by Thomas Little and Fred J. Rode, wardrobe by Charles LeMaire, musical direction by Lionel Newman, makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Ray Kellogg and sound by Eugene Grossman and Harry M. Leonard. The technical advisor was Capt. Raymond Harvey a Medal of Honor recipient. It was produced by Jules Buck.
“Fixed Bayonets!” is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.
“Fixed Bayonets!” was adapted from John Brophy’s World War II novel “Immortal Sergeant,” published in 1942, which deals with a platoon that gets lost in the Libyan desert. A June 14, 1942, Los Angeles Times review called it “a fine and thoughtful novel, full of excitement and substance, and written with restraint and intensity.” The New York Times said (June 14, 1942): “Real war, real people and a grand story.”
Fox purchased the book in May 1942 and released the film “Immortal Sergeant” in 1943, directed by John Stahl with a screenplay by Lamar Trotti, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.
According to Marsha Gordon’s “Film Is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies,” Fuller did not want Brophy to receive credit for the film, “but contractually agreed to ‘suggested by a novel by John Brophy.’ ” The working title for the film was “Old Soldiers Never Die” and the cast included Gene Evans, who had starred in Fuller’s “The Steel Helmet.”
Writing in the New York Times (Nov. 21 1951), film critic Bosley Crowther said:
The physical and emotional hardships of an American infantry platoon detailed as a rear guard to cover the winter retreat of a division on the Korean front are recounted with affected realism and rather obvious theatricality in Twentieth Century-Fox’s “Fixed Bayonets” which arrived at the Rivoli last night.
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, who apparently qualified as an authority on the Korean warfare with his independently produced “The Steel Helmet” earlier this year, this plainly studio-filmed picture betrays few of the virtues and most of the faults of that previous tribute to our troops in Korea, which was a film of limited virtues, at best.
The movie received its Los Angeles premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Dec. 5, 1951.
Los Angeles Times movie critic Philip K. Scheuer said:
Pending the long overdue arrival locally of John Huston’s “The Red Badge of Courage” I cannot think of another creator functioning currently who is Fuller’s superior at permitting us intimate brushes with death on the battlefield.
“Fixed Bayonets!” was a particularly tricky mystery movie. The cast is entirely men and in most scenes they are wearing heavy winter uniforms and helmets, caps or hoods. Quite often, only their faces are exposed and most of the actors have a week or two of stubble, making them hard to recognize.
James Dean is often cited as appearing uncredited in this film, but I couldn’t find him, although he could easily get lost in the uniformed masses.
For Monday, we have a mystery guest.
Update: This is Stuart Randall.
For Tuesday we have a mystery cigar. No wait….
That’s better. For Tuesday, we have a mystery guest.
Update: This is Robert Stevenson.
For Wednesday, we have this mystery guest….
Update: This is George Wesley.
And as a bonus, a mystery intruder….
This gent is unidentified. Several people have suggested that this is Philip Ahn, but I’m skeptical. Ahn was born in 1905 and would have been 46 years old at the time the film was made and our mystery guest looks much younger.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery general).
For Thursday, we have a couple of mystery guests.
Update: This is Gene Evans. The fellow on the left remains unidentified.
And Oh Him.
Update: This is John Doucette.
Brain Trust roll call: Patrick (Tuesday’s mystery guest). Howard Mandelbaum: They are in the cast, but they aren’t the mystery guests. Mary Mallory, Anne Papineau and Lee Ann, Megan and Thom: I’ll take the identification of the mystery intruder under advisement. I don’t think so, but it will take more research to determine for sure.
And for Friday….
Update: This is Richard Basehart.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (Thursday’s mystery guest on the phone), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Decker (Thursday’s mystery guest on the phone), Benito (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery guests), Patrick (mystery movie), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Don Danard (Thursday’s mystery guests) and LC (mystery movie and cast).