Films in Focus

Films in Focus: Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

Most people tend to associate the Vietnam War as a conflict waged between US and ARVN forces against the North Vietnamese Army and its Viet Cong allies. In actuality, there were several other nations attempting to defend South Vietnam from communist aggression, most notably troops sent under the auspices of the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand) banner.

In 1966, a small unit of 108 ANZAC soldiers from the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) found itself cut off and surrounded by over 2,500 North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong insurgents near the town of Long Tan, a rubber plantation in Phước Tuy Province, South Vietnam. 1 ATF began arriving between April and June 1966, constructing a base at Nui Dat, which was located astride a major communist transit and resupply route and was close to a VC base area. After two months it had moved beyond the initial requirements of establishing itself and securing its immediate approaches, beginning operations to open the province. Meanwhile, in response to the threat posed by 1 ATF, a force of between 1,500 and 2,500 men from the VC 275th Regiment, possibly reinforced by at least one PAVN battalion and the D445 Provincial Mobile Battalion, was ordered to move against Nui Dat.

For several weeks Australian signals intelligence (SIGINT) had tracked a radio transmitter from the headquarters of the 275th Regiment moving westwards to a position just north of Long Tan; however, extensive patrolling failed to find the unit. By August 16th, the communist force was positioned east of the Long Tan rubber plantation, just outside the range of the artillery at Nui Dat. On the night of 16/17 August, VC mortars, recoilless rifles (RCLs) and artillery heavily bombarded Nui Dat from a position 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the east, damaging the base and wounding 24 men, one of whom later died. The VC positions were then engaged by counter-battery fire and the mortaring ceased. The following morning, B Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), departed Nui Dat to locate the firing points and the direction of the VC withdrawal. A number of weapon pits were subsequently found, as were the positions of the mortars and RCLs. Thus began the Battle of Long Tan.

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, is an Australian film which documents the fierce engagement as seen through the eyes of Major Harry Smith and his dispersed company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Fighting for their lives, they attempt to hold off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle hardened Main Force Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers. With their ammunition running out, their casualties mounting and the enemy massing for a final assault, each man begins to search for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage. The Battle of Long Tan is one of the most savage and decisive engagements in ANZAC history, earning both the United States and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry along with many individual awards. But not before 18 Australians and more than 245 Vietnamese are killed in action.

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Films in Focus: Presidents at War

As we inch ever closer to President’s Day Weekend, I wanted to point out that The History Channel is running a special two-night showing of Presidents at War on Sunday February 17th at 8/7C PM. As The History Channel puts it, “Presidents at War is a two-night History Channel event. This landmark series tells the story of World War II through the experiences of eight remarkable men. Men who, like sixteen million other Americans, bravely serve their country during its darkest hour, and then go on to further service as the nation’s Commanders-in-Chief. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. This is the story of how their war experiences change them, how they emerge from conflict as leaders and how the crucible of war shapes the decisions they make when they reach the White House.

The Presidents’ experiences give a vivid picture of both the European and Pacific theaters of battle in World War II. Nineteen-year-old bomber pilot George H.W. Bush and twenty-five-year-old PT Boat commander John F. Kennedy fight on the front lines in the Pacific. Fifty-two-year-old General Dwight D. Eisenhower – a man who had never seen combat before the outbreak of the war, goes on to become the Supreme Allied Commander of the war in Europe – and seizes it back from Nazi control.

These are men who would play a first-hand role in the war effort. They become men who would steer the nation through conflict and turmoil in the last half of what would become known as the American century, fueled by lessons they learned during the 20th century’s defining war.”

For more information on the special, click on The History Channel link.

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Bad Santa

According to our principal distributor, port congestion along the West Coast has led to the delay of a number of important shipments that were scheduled to arrive in early December. Fortunately, most have now cleared customs and are headed to our supplier, including Forces of Valor, Eaglemoss and Hobby Master, before they are then earmarked for our own warehouse. Other shipments, from such stalwarts as Corgi and Modelcollect, could be delayed as well, so we’re carefully monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will continue to provide updates as they are warranted. As a result, we strongly suggest ordering only those products marked as being in stock if you are looking to give them as a gift or need them to arrive before the holidays.

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

While much of the snow that fell on the Northeast yesterday has since melted or washed away, that doesn’t mean its starting to look and feel more and more like Christmas at The Motor Pool compound. Earlier this month, we expanded our customer support hotline to cover more hours, updated our web site and generally received much of the product we expected to take delivery on, all in an effort to get ready for the final holiday push. Some key product will still arrive after the Thanksgiving weekend, meaning we will do everything in our power to fill as many orders as possible before the holidays arrive. Again, we ask for your patience in this matter and hope you refrain from contacting us unless you feel you absolutely have to to check on your order. We update our web site hourly, so its still the best means of judging when an item will likely arrive during the hectic hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

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Films in Focus: Operation Finale

Slated to open in US theatres in late August, Operation Finale tells the tale of the Israeli mission to capture the notorious Nazi henchman and architect of the Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann. The film stars Oscar Isaac as Peter Malkin and Ben Kingsley as Adolf Eichmann, with Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, and Joe Alwyn in supporting roles. The plot follows the story of the Jewish Nazi hunters as they set out to find and capture former SS officer Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Following his capture, Eichmann stands trial for his war crimes against humanity in Israel where he is later hanged.

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Films in Focus: Destroyer

No stranger to war films (Braveheat, The Patriot, We Were Soldiers, Hacksaw Ridge), Mel Gibson has picked up the directing baton once again to lead his next big budget film, Destroyer. Interestingly enough, Destroyer marks the second time he will return to Okinawa, the closing battle of WWII’s campaign in the Pacific in which the US Marines, Army and Navy paid a terrible price to wrest control of the island from the Japanese. His 2016 film, Hacksaw Ridge, about pacifist medic Desmond Doss’ heroic efforts to save wounded soldiers during the allied assault on the island received wide critical acclaim and was a commercial success. This time around, he’ll be manning the anti-aircraft guns aboard the USS Laffey (DD-724). Laffey, as USNI News points out, is famous for surviving a relentless attack by two dozen kamikaze aircraft while serving on radar picket duty early in the campaign to capture Okinawa. Laffey sustained substantial damage when it was struck by six planes and four bombs, yet was able to stay afloat and continue to fight.

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Films in Focus: Top Gun 2 Gets Topped Off

Val Kilmer is back as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Pete Mitchell’s chief competitor at the Top Gun academy. Still dangerous after all these years.

According to the Aviation Geek Club, Val Kilmer has signed on to lend his talents to Top Gun 2, thereby reprising his role as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky alongside Tom Cruise. Like Cruise’s character, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, Iceman will likely portray a fellow naval instructor at the Top Gun academy. The site also claims that Kenny Loggins will re-record Highway to the Danger Zone, the song that helped catapult the film into cinematic stardom. Presently, its not clear if any of the other former actors and actresses that appeared in the original film will be asked to rejoin the cast should the script permit and who will be added to the role call to portray a new class of naval aviators.

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Films in Focus: Top Gun 2 Starts Production

On the first day of production on Top Gun 2, Tom Cruise tweeted out this image showing him in the foreground in front of a naval aircraft. Fast forward 30 years, and its likely the F-14 will be swapped out for a more stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or, as some suggest, this two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet Strike Aircraft.

By now, you’ve likely heard that Tom Cruise signed on to do a sequel to Top Gun, entitled, what else, Top Gun 2. Yesterday he tweeted out an image with the three-word tag line “Feel the Need”, which aptly paraphrases the “Need for Speed” musical montage that helped to launch the original movie into cinematic history over 30 years ago. In the sequel, Cruise, who reprises his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, plays a flight instructor at the world-famous Top Gun Naval School who likely becomes embroiled in a conflict over the contested waters known as the China Seas. Drones and F-35C Joint Strike Fighters will likely take center stage this time around replacing the retired F-14 Tomcats that became the hallmark of the original film.

And, while we’re on the subject of Top Gun, we still have an ample supply of F-14s in both 1:72 and 1:200 scales, along with a bunch of ancillary products that combine to make the displays rich and filled with seat-of-the-pants excitement. Check ’em out now before they fly off into the danger zone.

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Films in Focus: Unbreakable Spirit

I guess some former Hollywood A-listers are past their prime and will do anything for a buck. Such is the case with Bruce Willis, who stars in a Chinese-made WWII flick entitled Unbreakable Spirit (formerly The Bombing). According to Cinema Escapist, “Unbreakable Spirit aims to dramatize Chinese resistance during the Bombing of Chongqing, which lasted from 1938-1943. Located deep inland, Chongqing served as China’s temporary capital from 1937-1946, as Japan captured many coastal cities including the formal capital Nanjing. Aiming to crush China’s government,  Japan flew 268 raids over Chongqing. The raids killed over 10,000 civilians and destroyed much of the city center.”

While the CGI generated combat scenes look decent enough, we’ll leave it up to you decide when this film will go straight to video in the english-speaking market and whether or not its worthy of serious discussion as a war tribute. 

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Films in Focus: Midway

Back in the seventies, director Jack Smight amassed an all star cast for the feature film, Midway, which, as its name implies, portrayed the pivotal air and sea battle that enabled the US Navy to wrest control of the war in the Pacific from the Japanese Empire. Fast forward forty years and now director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Godzilla (1998), Independence Day (1996) and The Patriot (2000) is looking to cast an equally star-studded ensemble that once again returns to the vast ocean waters near Midway Island. Emmerich is reportedly being backed with a $100 million budget, and has already locked up several prime time actors that include Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore. For more details on the project, visit Film School Rejects.

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