The War Pitch

Five for Hell (1969) Gianni Garko

Lt. Glenn Hoffmann (Gianni Garko) hand picks a small group of troops for a top secret mission. These men are too use their individual and sometimes unusual skills to sneak behind enemy borders and infiltrate a German held villa where the enemies plans are kept in a safe. But it is whilst over there that they encounter the sadistic SS Col. Hans Mueller (Klaus Kinski).

I am trying to picture how "Five to Hell" came to exist and I would like to think that maybe a young man with a dubious smelling cigarette manage to persuade, maybe through herbal intoxication, to make their next war movie one which is more of a pastiche. It is the only way I can explain how this movie came to be as it is so comically cheerful despite being a war movie that the flagrant nature of it must have been intentional.

The annoying thing is that to get across the tone of "Five to Hell" in words can not do it justice. The reason being is that a scene which makes you smile is a combination of things such as Hoffmann having a lethal pitching arm which he uses on his missions but there is the knowingly cheesy look on actor Gianni Garko's face combined with the ever changing musical score as well as the poor sound editing to make everything slightly off. Individually these things would usually be the stuff which make a movie bad but here it is the movie's strength. To put this in to context I can not remember the last time I watched one of these Italian war movies and smiled as much even as something as daft as one of the men tap dancing in the barracks.

What I will say is that the humour of "Five to Hell" is what makes the movie and watched for any other reason, especially war entertainment you could well end up disappointed. In fact there are times during the movie where it feels like they had tried to make a more typical, serious war movie and then either changed tone half way through or added the humorous scenes after and as such there are times when it is being more typical that it really struggles.

What this all boils down to is that "Five for Hell" is one quirky war movie which thanks to it being a case where everything is wrong that it ends up so entertaining.

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