JUMP INTO HELL. Warner Brothers, 1955. Jacques Sernas (as Jack Sernas), Kurt Kasznar, Arnold Moss, Peter van Eyck, Norman Dupont, Lawrence Dobkin, Patricia Blair (as Pat Blake), Lisa Montell (as Irene Montwill). Writer: Irving Wallace. Director: David Butler.

   This somewhat obscure 1950s war film is a decidedly anti-communist, flag waving piece. And the flag being waved here is most assuredly the red, white, and blue. But not the one you might expect from Warner Brothers. No. Instead, it is the tricolor flag of the French Republic which is being proverbially hoisted here.

   Rather than taking us into an American unit in the Second World War or the Korean War, Jump Into Hell showcases the French military in its last stand against the Viet Minh communist revolutionaries at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. As an entry point into the story, the movie focuses primarily on four French soldiers who chose to volunteer for duty. The emphasis is on Captain Guy Bertrand (Jacques Sernas), who has never been in any real combat but was a German POW during the Second World War.

   Joining him are Captain Callaux (Kurt Kasznar), who seems to think that showcasing his bravery might help with his marital problems; Lieutenant Heldman (Peter van Eyck), who fought under Rommel, but is not a member of the Foreign Legion; and the youthful and decidedly innocent, Lieutenant Maupin (Norman Dupont).

   While there’s a subplot involving Bertrand’s illicit love affair with the wife of a soldier already based at Dien Bien Phu, most of the film is about how these four men adapt to life in a combat zone. As you might expect with a somewhat lesser war movie from the era, there’s a lot of stock footage in this one. Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly obvious and does serve to take the viewer out of the story.

   As far as direction and cinematography, it’s nothing special. Adequate, but not anything overly memorable one way or the other. There are some very good moments in Jump Into Hell such as when Callaux volunteers to get much-needed drinking water for his unit, but nothing that remotely compares to other combat films. All told, it’s a somewhat unique film because of its subject matter about the French in Indochina, but it’s not anything I’d recommend going out of your way to see.