20th Century Fox
A movie well deserving of its titular exclamation point, Fixed Bayonets!
is one of the most exciting and ingeniously structured of the classic Fox war films. Director Samuel Fuller, adapting from a novel by John Brophy, centers the story on a tenderfoot corporal, fourth in line to lead a rear-guard platoon in the icy mountains of Korea but unable to kill. The success of the group's mission will likely decide whether the entire regiment makes it out of the Korean War alive, and when the top commanders get lopped off one by one, the U.S. force's future lands on the meek corporal's shoulders. Fuller's bruising genre films are always about more than they seem; here he uses the war-film paradigm to explore the most inhumane aspects of the human condition, despite a patriotic hero's ending the studio surely demanded. This is minimalist intensity stretched to its breaking point. There are no extras worth mentioning here, but at least it's another Fuller title to arrive in a crisp transfer. Let's hope his other '50s war movies are next.