CANNON MONTH 2: Battle Force (1978)

EDITOR’S NOTE: 21st Century — pre-Menahem Golan — released this film originally known as The Biggest Battle on the Planet Video VHS label.

Just look at this cast: Giuliano Gemma, Edwige Fenech, Ida Galli, Helmut Berger, Michele Soavi, Stacy Keach, Ray Lovelock, Samantha Eggar, Henry Fonda, Evelyn Stewart, John Huston and Orson Welles as the narrator.

Yes, you read that right.

Directed and co-written — with Cesare Frugoni, who also was the writer for Cut and RunThe Spider LabyrinthSlave of the Cannibal GodWarriors of the Year 2072The Island of the Fishmen and many more — by Umberto Lenzi, this starts at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, as German officer Manfred Roland (Keach) has dinner with a group of friends including German actress Annelise Hackermann (Eggar), Canadian reporter Sean O’Hara (Huston) and American Brigadier General Harold Foster (Fonda). The two military men give one another matching medals that say “In God we trust” and promise that in four years, they will have another meal just like this.

Six years later, that dinner hasn’t happened and the world is quite different. Roland is married to Hackerman, who has gone into hiding due to her religion but soon has to give sexual favors to an SS officer just to live while her husband executes her people. Foster’s sons John and Ted (Lovelock and Soavi, I mean, what a great bunch of kids to have!) have joined him in the war effort.

Another soldier, Lt. Kurt Zimmer (Berger) may be dating a French sex worker (Fenech), but he’s still killing her people until John joins the resistance. Everyone ends up in Tunisia, where John meets British commando Captain Martin Scott (Gemma) and the fighting increases. While this is all happening, Annelise commits suicide.

In the big battle, Scott kills Zimmer and rips the medallion from the dead body of Zimmer. He gives it to John who notices that it looks just like his father’s but has no idea why.

Lenzi spent a ton of money on this movie and it was a ton of tanks in the big battle. Meanwhile, Huston and Fonda were shooting Tentacles at the same time as this movie. Somehow, this movie mixes newsreel footage and episodic war stories and does it all in under two hours with the kind of cast that should be in a miniseries. It’s not good, but it’s something.

You can watch this — complete with really rough video edit of the title — on Tubi.

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