By Maurizio Colombo
In this genre, too, Sergio Bonelli loved losers. For him, war never had anything heroic about it; it looked just like a human abattoir, with people pushed to their deaths by incompetent senior officers, who only thought about gaining a damned medal for military valour (the valour of their men, of course).
We can easily detect that disposition just by taking a look at his most beloved titles: Story of G.I. Joe (1945) directed by William A. Wellman; Robert Aldrich’s Attack! (1956) and Too Late the Hero (1970); Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957); and Cross of Iron (1977) by Sergio’s beloved Sam Peckinpah—all real “punches in the face”, that could knock out any warmonger.
Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory.
Then, there were “his” movies, about the anti-heroes of the Foreign Legion: Beau Geste (1939) by William A. Wellman, March or Die (1977) by Dick Richards, and Willis Goldbeck’s Ten Tall Men (1951). Sergio was fascinated also by the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa, thanks to epic movies like Zulu (1964) by Cy Endfield, a report-like re-enactment of the Rorke's Drift Siege, where 150 British soldiers stood up to the encirclement created by 5000 Zulu warriors; the movie was followed by Zulu Dawn (1979) directed by Douglas Hickox, and written by Cy Endfield himself, the story of the thrashing that the soldiers of Her Britannic Majesty received at the Battle of Isandlwana, fought in 1879.