Lost Battalion [2001]

The true World War I story of an American unit that was surrounded by German troops and pounded mercilessly for days (at times even by its own artillery) is vividly portrayed in this made-for-television film starring Rick Schroder. Playing a patrician New York City lawyer commissioned a major and sent into combat, Schroder commands a battalion composed of New York wiseacres as well as so-called "apple knockers" from the West. The plot is straightforward (and will be familiar to those who know World War I history), but the film rises above what could have been a clich├ęd telling of the story of Major Whittlesey and his heroic men. The action sequences, shot tightly with hand-held cameras, owe a debt to Saving Private Ryan, and the surreal horror of World War I, in which armies killed with machine guns yet communicated by carrier pigeon, is conveyed very well. --Robert J. McNamara

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