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Black Brigade (1970) Review

Review; Feb. 27, 2012; Channels: Movies; By Charles Rector

Black Brigade is a good example of how ignorance of military history by Hollywood types can result in a really bad -- not to mention unintentionally funny -- movie. This was a 1970 TV movie written by Aaron Spelling.

Black Brigade

Black Brigade begins when Captain Carter (Stephen Boyd) is tasked to go on a dangerous mission to blow up a Nazi-held dam 50 miles behind enemy lines. The unit chosen to accomplish the task is B Company, which is all black ... and is a sanitation unit. The men in this unit do hard physical work including digging latrines, digging graves, dealing with garbage, etc. Despite the fact that soldiers of this type did not receive much combat training and certainly none of the training needed for daring commando type missions, Carter asks their lieutenant in charge for volunteers, and he picks six men.

These black soldiers are nothing like what real black soldiers from the World War II era were like. These soldiers have attitude and are not afraid to yell and scream at their white commanding officer about the unfairness of life. Also, all the black actors have big afros and a few have mustaches/goatees in keeping with 1970 fashions. Richard Pryor sports a red beret throughout the whole movie. In the real life military, anyone dressed like that or sporting that kind of hair would have been in serious trouble.

You’d expect that the soldiers would receive some sort of special training and special advanced planning for their mission. No such thing. You would also expect the soldiers be airlifted to somewhere near their target. Once again, no such thing. Instead, the troopers just simply walk down a road in broad daylight. And they manage to penetrate the enemy lines without encountering any Germans, military or civilian, and on top of that, they manage to come near the dam 50 miles behind the enemy lines strictly by walking for no more than a day. Unreal.

They stop at a house occupied by a native woman (Susan Oliver), who has zero German accent, and there Capt. Carter listens to the radio for his orders. Now, in real life, these orders would have been broadcast in some sort of code. Instead, Carter’s commanding officer totally disregards even basic communication security, telling him everything in plainspoken English and even telling him that the Third Regiment is going to launch an offensive to gain the dam the next day (again going the full 50 miles in less than a day). To wit, Capt. Carter and his ludicrously small command has to secure the dam for the offensive to succeed. Any real life World War II offensive that could have gained 50 miles in a single day would have been considered the Eighth Miracle of the World. And for good reason too: In real life, no single offensive ever gained anywhere near that kind of territory in one day.

Despite the fact that the Germans monitored Allied radio communications and surely would have picked up the unguarded orders, once Capt. Carter’s unit arrives at the dam, they find it guarded only by a couple incompetents who are quickly dispatched. Then, the unit moves on to find four Germans who are fixing on blowing the dam despite the fact that they don't have anywhere near enough dynamite to make a serious dent in it. These enemy troops are also eliminated with ease. As if on cue, the Third Regiment shows up without any signs of ever being in combat, and the operation is judged a success. One of the soldiers is notified that he will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. End of movie.

Black Brigade is a war action movie without any real suspense, nor does it even try to replicate anything even halfway close to authentic. If anything, it falls into the genre of movies such as Where Eagles Dare in which the killing of enemy troops is as easy as pie, prompting viewers to wonder if it's so easy for the good guys to kill off the bad guys, then why did World War II last so long?

Editor's Note: This review originally appeared on OMGN's former sister site FlickZone on Feb. 12, 2005.


Review Score

Not Rated by MPAA

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Related Media Companies

  • Thomas/Spelling Productions

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