Ski Troop Attack (April 8, 1960)
Released April 8, 1960: American soldiers on skis caught behind enemy lines in Germany decide to blow up a vital railroad bridge.
Produced by Roger Corman
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
The Actors: Michael Forest (Lieutenant Factor), Frank Wolff (Sergeant Potter), Wally Campo (Private Ed Ciccola), Richard Sinatra (Private Herman Grammelsbacher), James Hoffman (German Ski Patrol), Chan Biggs (German Ski Patrol), Tom Staley (German Ski Patrol), David Mackie (German Ski Patrol), Skeeter Bayer (German Ski Patrol), Wayne Lasher (German Ski Patrol), Sheila Noonan (Frau Karl Heinsdorf), Roger Corman (German soldier entering cabin), Paul Rapp (Private Roost, the radio operator)
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When you watch a Roger Corman movie you expect an irreverence to tradition on a shoestring budget, with young actors that personify the 1960's. You do not expect to find a movie gem with an intricate plot and meaningful dialogue, but this Corman classic is one mighty fine WWII action movie unlike any you've seen.
A group of army soldiers in Germany in 1944 at Christmas time is separated from the rest of the advancing forces and caught behind enemy lines. When they discover that all of the fighting is behind them, they have a meeting to decide what to do. Sergeant Potter declares that they should retreat with the rest of the forces and get back into the hot and heavy fighting. Lieutenant Factor decides that instead of re-joining the fighting behind them, they should take advantage of their unique position behind enemy lines to scout out the area and map enemy positions. Throughout the movie we see the tension between the Sergeant and the Lieutenant, as it becomes clear that they hold no great love or respect for each other. They continue behind the lines, shooting the occasional german on patrol and confiscating food from a home they come upon. About 25 minutes in you can see the legendary Roger Corman, who does an 'Alfred Hitchcock' cameo appearance. He is the German that enters the cabin and sees the dead Frau Heinsdorf on the floor.
Our ski soldiers discover a railroad bridge that is a vital supply link for the Graman army in this part of the country and they decide to blow up the bridge. The action continues hot and heavy as they battle their German counterparts in the snowy mountains of the Motherland.
One note about production: The movie was made in the snowy mountains of Deadwood, South Dakota. For one shot, Corman carefully selected a hill with no ski tracks, perfect virgin snow for his men to ski down. It was to be a spectacular shot. Unfortunately, when he raised his megaphone and started barking out the commands to get ready and start the action, the vibrations of his voice over the megaphone started an avalanche on the hill, destroying the perfect virgin snow in the camera view. Without thinking, the director that was used to getting everything he wanted quickly barked out, "STOP THAT SNOW!" Well, he obviously didn't get what he wanted that time, but filming went on, and after two weeks this pretty good action adventure movie was 'in the can.' Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.