Hornets' Nest (1970)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Adventure  |   Release Date - Sep 9, 1970 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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This unusual war film is well worth a look for the genre's fans. The script uses its novel hook of children fighting a war well, generally avoiding sentimentality and going for a gritty style that suits the war-movie genre. Rock Hudson centers the movie with his gruff, effectively underplayed performance as the soldier hero and his subtle work is nicely balanced by a flashier, more emotional turn from Mark Colleano as the defacto leader of the kid gang. There is also a solid turn by Sylva Koscina, who adds a bit of heart to the film as a kidnapped Nazi doctor who becomes motherly towards the group's younger children. Best of all, Hornet's Nest boasts tough direction from action and noir vet, Phil Karlson. He's not afraid to get grim with the audience - like in the opening scene, where the kids watch their village get gunned down in unflinching detail - and handles the action well, managing many suspenseful setpieces along the way. The film's one real misstep is a left-field stab at a tearjerker moment during the last moments that doesn't quite jibe with what preceded it. However, the rest of Hornet's Nest stays true to the film's uncompromising mandate and its offbeat premise makes it a unique entry into the war genre.