Merrill's Marauders (1962) starring Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Andrew Duggan, Will Hutchins, Claude Akins, John Hoyt directed by Samuel Fuller Movie Review

Merrill's Marauders (1962)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jeff Chandler in Merrill's Marauders (1962)

Objective: Survival

"Merrill's Marauders" tells the story of the 5307th unit, a unit comprised of volunteers from countries such as Australia, Britain and America who with expertise of operating in the jungle were sent into Burma after the Japanese army had invaded. Their story starts with them initially on a mission to take Walawbum which took over 3 months of making their way through the unforgiving jungle and battling small Japanese encampments. But their mission evolves as they are then sent to capture the strategic airstrip at Myitkyina despite the men suffering from various problems brought on in the jungle including fatigue, delirium and injuries.

Unusually for me I haven't bothered with a proper synopsis for "Merrill's Marauders" as despite being only 98 minutes it manages to cover a lot of ground. The basis of it is the missions that the men are on and how after the first exhausting mission when they thought they would be returning home get ordered on another mission. But along the way we see other things from tactics used to force Japanese soldiers back to issues over 2nd Lt. Lee Stockton being too close to his men. We also see how the men are suffering, longing to go home, exhausted and at times delirious. As such this movie throws us into the middle of the jungle and immerses us in various aspects of war with the interest coming as much from the characters as the action.

Ty Hardin in Merrill's Marauders (1962)

As such the actors play a big part of the movies success as whilst director Samuel Fuller with his military experience creates the look and atmosphere it is the actors who bring it to life. As such in the lead and in his final movie is Jeff Chandler who to be frank is fantastic as the tough leader of the Marauder's who expects efficiency but also has a bond with his men especially Stockton his 2nd. I mentioned this was Chandler's last movie and he aggravated a long standing back problem during production but continued despite the pain he was in; after production was over he went in for surgery on his back but died from blood poisoning. But Chandler is not the only good performance and Ty Hardin delivers just as an effective and developed character in Lt. Stockton.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Merrill's Marauders" tells the story of the action which the 5307th encountered in Burma it is most effective as a movie which brings to life what it was like as a soldier in the jungles rather than the detailing of the actual mission.