Not a One Man Army – Screaming Eagles (1956)

Sometimes a person cannot help but have a bad attitude. Maybe it was because kids picked on them in school or they had bad parents or whatever but somewhere, life along the way has made them bitter and no matter how hard they try to push that aside it is simply always there. In the case of Pvt. Manning, it was a mean father who turned him sour and now, joining up with a new crew that requires teamwork for a very important mission, one that means everyone doing their part and working in tandem is going to push Manning to the limit of his patience and perhaps, just maybe, teach him to be a better man.

Screaming Eagles might be a war film detailing the mission of a group of men that need to secure an all-important bridge during D-Day but more than anything, it is about the evolution of one man, the aforementioned Manning as played by Tom Tryon. As Tryon would get top billing in this picture, one would guess that he would be the good guy and in this instance, he seems to be one who is not so much more a villain or at the very least, one whose manner makes those who look to welcome him aboard questionable. The man does a great job in the role, making the audience dislike him immensely almost from the start as he gives everyone slices of attitude – sarcastic, rude and otherwise. The man was born to play the bad guy it seems and yet, as the movie would progress, through trial and the persistence of those who would call him brother-in-arms, he soon comes around to the fact that his fellow teammates are not against him, that life is not as bad as it could be and he grows up into the soldier Lt. Pauling always knew he could be.

Much of the picture focuses on the human element even during the second half of the film when the action picks up with full-on firefights against the Germans. Director Charles F. Haas keeps the relationships between the men at the forefront despite the company trying to carry out their mission which is made all the harder due to them missing their drop zone. While they encounter numerous Germans along the way, managing to rescue a French girl named Marianne as played by Jacqueline Beer, and incurring numerous losses, the men of D company try to keep themselves in good spirits while death surrounds them. Throughout it all, the brotherhood they have come to know is what carries them through to the end and the completion of a successful mission.

As far as war movies go, Screaming Eagles is not as big or as flashy as some but it has heart and a strong dramatic core that will capture the attention of the audience and a happy ending that satisfies as Manning and the men live to fight another day.

3.5 out of 5

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