Battle Squadron/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Battle Squadron

Almost 10 years before directing Inglorious Bastards, director Enzo G. Castellari made this other highly entertaining Macaroni Combat classic. The film follows the exploits of the British Army and their forces led by Captain Paul Stevens (Frederick Stafford). As the men evacuate the wartorn area of Dunkirk, an elite group of German SS officers who are masquerading as Brits, ambush some English soldiers and kill them all. Their main objective is to take the dead men's dogtags, steal their identities then infiltrate and destroy England's radar stations so the Germans can level London into smithereens. Hollywood star Van Johnson plays American Air Marshal George Taylor who joins up with Stevens on their mission to stop the Nazi's plans before its too late. One of the most colorful characters in the film is Sgt. Mulligan (Renzo Palmer) who plays a loudmouth always throwing wisecracks towards the soldiers to do their jobs. The German spies are led by the sinister Major Krueger, played by Luigi Pistilli, an actor who Italian genre film fans will certainly recognize. The film cleverly moves back and forth between talky espionage-thriller and action packed war film. Theres ambushes, doublecrossing, aerial dogfights, tank battles & shootouts aplenty.

Il Maestro Castellari created a wide array of really interesting sequences and even employs split screen to add some extra visual flair to the air battle scenes. I especially enjoyed how the planes were filmed. If you look closely you can tell that a lot of the time the planes arent even moving, but the manner in which the camera captures them in different angles creates a very convincing visual effect. As opposed to smaller macaroni combat productions like Parolini's Five For Hell for example, this film boasts some elaborate and epic qualities. There are miniatures used in some scenes, but the speed at which they are shot don't take the viewer out of the movie. In fact, something you can really admire is that Enzo & Co. didnt have the aid of tools like CGI and they had to be more inventive. Although, if you're an Italian genre cinema fan, you probably already know that the country's movie set designers and special effects artists are still in demand for their incredible imagination and flair when faced with creating elaborate backdrops for directors to tell their stories.

An interesting fact as noted by Quentin Tarantino on the new Severin Films DVD featurette is that much of the action footage from Eagles Over London later found its way into Umberto Lenzi's epic war film From Hell To Victory. Both films are well known macaroni combat classics that film fans should check out.


Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He holds an AS with Highest Honors in Communications and Interactive Media Design.

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