Merrill’s Marauders Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill leads the 3,000 American volunteers of his 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), aka “Merrill’s Marauders”, behind Japanese lines across Burma to Myitkyina, pushing beyond their limits and fighting pitched battles at every strong-point.
An Exercise in Tension
Merrill’s Marauders The fact that the film has no discernable introduction is entirely in keeping with Sam Fuller’s B Movie style direction. It jumps straight into the action, with Merrill’s army platoon stationed somewhere in the middle of the Burmese jungle. While it was quite hard to suddenly have to familiarise oneself with about 20 different characters, and determine the complicated relationships between them, it allowed for an epic war movie to be refreshingly condensed to a bite-sized 95 minutes.
Merrill, his respected lieutenant, Stockton, and the rest of the boys spend the majority of the film in a sweat-drenched feverish confusion, which is so convincing, that you wonder what the director had to do to in order to produce such a performance from his actors. I have never seen so much agony and despair on the screen, as Merrill’s men struggle through the seemingly endless swamps and mountains. Fuller adds to the attention by way of silent close-ups and good use of the location which suggests that anything might be around the corner, and it usually is.
The film truly shows the horrors of war and the effects on the minds of the people who fought it. If there is a fault, it comes in the form of a patriotic voice-over commentary which bookends the film at the start and the finish. Otherwise, this makes for thrillingly uncomfortable yet exhilarating viewing.
“A good psychological study of the suffering of soldiers fighting in the jungle”
“This is not the best war movie I’ve ever seen, but it is certainly not the worst. (I prefer Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One myself.) It certainly uses most of the movie clichés of the day.
For me, the film is a sentimental favorite more than anything else. My father served with the Marauders in Company “L” and we always enjoyed watching it together.
Probably the best thing which I could say about it is how Fuller sets the emotional tone of the life of the soldiers. Watch this movie if you want to see what it was like to fight in the jungles of Burma without enough food or rest.”