Friday, January 13, 2006

In Satan's Secret Service.

The Devil’s Brigade
1968, USA
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.

I wonder how he feels about that whole paramilitary thing.

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.

Also found were some drawings of the Wooly Norris.

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”.


Blogger Fatman said...

1) You might reeeeaaaaly want to distance yourselves from the Brits. This is the race where the men prefer watching other men kick soccer balls to sex. This, the race that believes that Robin Hood was a historical figure and Adolf Hitler was fictitious.

2) Heh heh heh. You ever type in 'French Military Victories' on Google on the 'I'm feeling lucky' setting? Gold.

3) They talk like Americans...just slower.

4) Isn't it 'Fuck off, redneck. Eh?'

5) Any race that has a national sport where you chase each other on ice and then beat the utter shit out of the opposition while somewhere in the background hopefully at least one team member is scoring goals can't be truly square.

10:40 a.m.  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

Everything I've ever needed to know about Canadians I learned from the Ginger Snaps trilogy and the pasty kid from Vancouver in my Standard 7 (Grade 9?) Science class.

10:58 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Uh, actually, Fatman, the national sport is lacross. I'm not kidding.

Broadzilla, I couldn't be prouder that you learned about Canada from Ginger Snaps. Though mainly a horror movie, it contains many elements woven into the background and subtext that are uniquely Canadian, such as the fact that we are all werewolves and Mimi Rogers lives here.

12:27 p.m.  
Blogger gretchkal said...

i kind of like these hokey war movies - even though they usually idealize war and the military. it's very likely that i've seen this film. i seem to remember a movie with a bunch of prissy canadians in it ... hmmm ...

4:28 p.m.  
Blogger Fatman said...

Lacrosse is pretty violent as well. I think our national sport is dwarf tossing.

Hey Film Guy- Broadzilla's comment gots me wonderin', and I know you've touched on the subject a few times in the past, but what would you say are the top five films you'd show ( not to get too High Fidelity on ya) to an alien race to get a proper feel of Canadia?

7:31 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I'd just show them American films, but take out the guns, coloureds, and swearing.

I'll think about your question more seriously later.

10:50 p.m.  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

A few years ago I rented several classic war films. I found them fairly boring. However, I do really love The Great Escape.

8:14 p.m.  

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