Anzio, also known as Lo Sbarco di Anzio or The Battle of Anzio, is a 1968 war film about Operation Shingle, the 1944 Allied seaborne assault on the Italian port of Anzio in World War II. The film was adapted from the book Anzio by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, who had been the BBC war correspondent at the battle.
The film starred Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk, and a variety of international film stars. The all-star cast mostly portrayed fictitious characters based on actual participants in the battle. The one exception was Wolfgang Preiss, who played Field Marshall Albert Kesselring?. This was a U.S./Italian co-production made in Italy with an Italian film crew; however, none of the major stars was Italian, nor were there any major Italian characters. The film was directed by Edward Dmytryk along with Italian director Duilio Coletti. After meeting a general, war correspondent Dick Ennis (Robert Mitchum) is assigned to accompany US Army Rangers for the upcoming attempt to outflank the tough enemy defenses. The amphibious landing is unopposed, but the American general is too cautious, preferring to fortify his beachhead before advancing inland. Ennis and a Ranger drive in a jeep through the countryside, discovering there are few Germans between the beachhead and Rome, but his information is ignored. As a result, the German commander, Kesselring, has time to gather his forces and launch an effective counterattack.
Ennis is with the Rangers when they are ambushed at the Battle of Cisterna. From there, the film departs from being a view of all sides and levels of the campaign to a story of a handful of survivors making their way back through enemy lines. Ennis asks what makes one human being willingly kill another. Corporal Jack Rabinoff (Peter Falk) replies that he loves it, and his lifestyle makes him live more than anyone else. Rabinoff is based on a real First Special Service Force soldier Jake Wallenstein, who ran an illegal brothel of Italian prostitutes in a stolen ambulance. Most of the men, including Rabinoff, are killed. (In reality, Wallenstein was killed by shrapnel at Port Cros during Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France.) Ennis survives to publicly question the competence of the Allied commander.