In Satan's Secret Service.
Andrew V. McLaglen
People join the army because of movies like this. Well, that and because they get fired from McDonald’s for playing 50 Cent over the drive-thru intercom. The Devil’s Brigade was made in the mid-century period of war films where everything was about the honor and valor of battle, with a touch of rough and tumble Americans pulling together to give the Jerries a whuppin’. The film is a true story, of sorts, recounting the formation of the world’s first special forces team. Assembled out of rag-tag Americans and prissy Canadians, the film would have us believe that the Special Forces are the bravest of the bravest, angels among insects. I suppose it does take a certain kind of bravery to smuggle drugs, train right-wing paramilitary death squads and assassinate leftist political figures, but I’m not sure if that’s something to be glorified.
The film stars The Wild Bunch’s William Holden as the hard-nosed CO of the American squad. The Canadians are led by the prudish Major Alan Crown, a stern and unforgiving leader who can define the word ‘prim’ without speaking. American spirit is, of course, indicated by bar fights and insubordination, while the Canadians are all either Scottish brawlers or Oscar Wilde. There is predictable friction between the two camps, but all is resolved by the time they embark on their missions, because apparently the Bad News Bears paradigm is as old as time itself. Cave paintings have surfaced in Lascaux featuring lovable losers and Walter Matthau with profane voice bubbles. When they finally pull together, they single handedly win the Second World War by bravely slitting the throats of German soldiers from behind and climbing a large mountain, probably because American viewers are so sick of US soldiers crushing and oppressing foreign peoples they need to see an inanimate object conquered.
While the film is pleasant enough, there are a few points that need to be corrected. The portrayal of Americans as drunken bullies may be accurate, there are a few myths about Canadians perpetuated in this film that need to be corrected.
1. They are not all Irish, or English, or Scottish. They’re just fey, which is often confused with British.
2. They are not all French. And if they were, they wouldn’t join the Army.
3. They don’t speak with stupid accents. They talk like Americans with university degrees.
4. They do not say “a-boot”. They do, however, say “fuck off, redneck” a lot.
5. They are not square. Well, OK, They are, but that’s only because they don’t have any black people around.
So, next time you see a Canadian, remind him that you’re aware of the misconceptions about his fine, noble people, and you appreciate his role in forming the first Special Forces unit to illegal further the interests of the American military industrial complex. I’m sure he’ll respond with a thankful “fuck off, redneck”.