Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Lost Command", Is Good War Film

Cleveland Press May 30, 1966

There are melodramatic touches about "Lost Command," but it remains nevertheless one of the better war movies to come along.

Based on Jean Larteguy's novel, "The Centurions," the film starts with a handful of French paratroopers being overrun and captured at Dien Bien Phu, their imprison. meet, their release and their reassignment to Algeria where another war has started.

Anthony Quinn is perfectly cast as Lt. Col. Raspeguy, a former peasant who has risen to be an officer although he is not of the social class of his colleagues, a soldier who is often at odds with the political concerns of his superior and the fighting inadequacies of those under him.

Alain Delon is effective as an idealistic young captain, a character that is a composite of several in the novel but not true to any of them.

EXPLAINING THE FORTUNES of war through Delon's idealism and Quinn's personal ambition departs drastically from Larteguy's work, an apparent attempt on the part of the movie makers to reduce the story to understandable, dramatic terms.

But these departures aside, the film remains true to its source and to modern realities in showing that the horrors of war cause reaction on top of reactions among those who practice it; that brutalities can exist on both sides.

Other members of the cast who figure importantly in the picture are Maurice Ronet as a thoroughly professional and brutal soldier, Claudia Cardinale as an Algerian girl and Michele Morgan as a countess who figures in Quinn's ambitions.

THE MOTION PICTURE was filmed in Spain and producer-director Mark Robson has made good use of the terrain. His battle scenes are some of the best ever staged for their excitement and graphic portrayal.

The film covers much ground and a good deal of time and, in doing so, becomes occasionally episodical. Good pace and plenty of action, however, make it seem shorter than its length of slightly more than two hours.