Darby’s Rangers (1958)
“”MAVERICK” himself – in his first starring big-screen role!”
Director: William Wellman
Cast: James Garner, Etchika Choureau, Jack Warden
Synopsis: The lives, loves, and battles of fictional characters in the Army’s First Ranger Battalion during WWII.
There’s little to distinguish Warners’ Darby’s Rangers from the countless other war movies made during the 1950s, although the story might have more meaning for Americans, to whom the Rangers of the title seem to be some sort of legend. James Garner plays Darby, the man who oversaw the training of a bunch of volunteers into a crack troop of commandos. The volunteers represent the usual cross-section, and the decision to focus so much on their love lives at the expense of actual battle scenes is a misguided one. There are a couple of moments – both good and bad – that stand out from the stubbornly average tone of the movie. The death scenes are probably the most impressive: ‘No more muddy boots in my face,’ comments one wry recruit after watching his inconsiderate tent-mate fall to his death during a climbing exercise. Moments later, we see the married woman with whom the dead recruit was having an affair – and whose husband has subsequently left her – undergo a clumsy breakdown with unseemly haste upon learning of his death. Overall, though, Darby’s Rangers is far too bland to recommend.
(Reviewed 26th April 2012)