A squad of six US soldiers are ordered to hold a section of The Siegfried Line during WWII and so come up with ever more creative ways to disguise their true number.
Hell Is For Heroes was directed by Don Siegel who went on to become one of the best directors of hard-boiled action thrillers around – Dirty Harry being the most famous example – and he shows his skill for economy and gritty violence in this unpretentious and authentic depiction of combat. Steve McQueen shows his star quality as an embittered and possibly shell shocked ex-sergeant who takes matters into his own hands when they are discovered and his performance is fantastic. In fact the entire cast are eminently watchable – especially James Coburn who would co-star with McQueen again in The Magnificent Seven – with the banter and comedy of the earlier scenes really nicely balanced with some brutal battle scenes later in the film. The story concentrates more on the soldier on the ground than a depiction of the bigger picture, showing that there is a thin line between heroism and mental illness.
Although the climax is a little lacking in closure, Hell Is For Heroes is a powerful and realistic war film that still ranks amongst the best of the genre.