When the Trumpets Fade
(Arrow DVD Retail)
Brit John Irvin directed this HBO-produced WWII-set film which concentrates on the bloody, drawn out, all but forgotten battle at Hürtgen Forest on the border between Belgium and Germany in the winter of 1944/1945. Manning (Ron Eldard) miraculously survives one mission and his skill is rewarded by a promotion on the one hand, and resentment on the other – one sergeant muses whether it was luck, skill or cowardice that allowed Manning to survive. With efficient support from Martin Donovan and Frank Whaley, Irvin can add this to his long list of well-directed, adequate credits (The Dogs of War, Hamburger Hill and City of Industry). The fact that this is yet another film that gives the impression that the US alone kicked ass in WWII is a bore, and there is no end of character conflict to the detriment of character shading, but otherwise this is capable small screen fare.