Merrill’s Marauders – Samuel Fuller adds realism
Samuel Fuller, the director of ”Merrill’s Marauders”, served in World War 2 himself. He served in Africa and in Europe, not in Burma, where this movie is set. But it is obvious that Fullers experiences of real war has affected this movie.
”Merrill’s Marauders” is the story about the 3000 American Special Forces that were led by Frank D Merrill during the war. In 1943, the soldiers transported themselves by foot deep into the jungle of Burma, behind the Japanese lines. On 32 occasions they ended up in combat with Japanese forces, and they were also affected by disease and hunger. The casualty rate was high. Of the 2750 men that entered Burma, only two were ledt alive who had never been hospitalized with wound or major illness.
For an American war movie from 1956, ”Merril’s Maruaders” is quite realistic. It is evident in the way the soldiers move, and in the combat scenes. Also, there is a strong anti-war message present in the movie, which was not always the case at the time. But the war is still depicted in a very ”unbloody” fashion, nowhere near modern films like ”Saving Private Ryan”.
Jeff Chandler, the actor playing Merrill, was struck by poor health during the shooting and unfortunately did not live to see the finished film. Absurdly, his poor health probably contributed to his performance in the movie.
All in all, ”Merrill’s Marauders” is a decent old war movie. Nothing spectacular, but Fuller as a director makes it more interesting. Also, it feels a bit like rehearsal for Fuller’s later ”The Big Red One”, which in a more direct way dealt with his personal experiences of the war.
Merrill’s Marauders can be found on Itunes.