After a WWII veteran murders a man, we flash back to his days with the Buffalo Soldiers to learn why he became a murderer forty years later. At a New York post office, an employee, Hector Negron, pulls out a German gun and shoots a customer at point blank range with no explanation. When his apartment is searched, they find the head of a famous Italian statue, which was assumed to have been destroyed long ago. This obviously raises a multitude of questions: why did he kill that man? Why does he have a German gun? Why does he have the head of a priceless statue? We flash back to his days in World War II, when he was a corporal in the famous all-black Buffalo Soldier infantry. While fighting across a river in Italy, he finds himself separated from the rest of his division, alongside three other soldiers: Stamps (their leader), Cummings, and Sam. They come across a collapsing building, and Sam rescues a small Italian boy, Angelo, before it falls. Sam, a deeply religious young man, finds the statue head and begins carrying it around with him, believing that it brings him good fortune. They take up shelter in a small village, where Stamps and Cummings both fall in love with a local woman named Renata. An Italian resistance group arrives in town with a German deserter in tow. The Americans, now able to reach their headquarters, are told to bring a German soldier back with them. Before they get a chance to interrogate the man captured by the Italians, they find him and the Italian leader, both shot dead by one of the group's own men. Apparently the man was warned of an incoming German attack and needed to flee-- now, the Italians and our four American heroes are stuck in a small village, hopelessly outnumbered, with the enemy closing in.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a little too long and drags in spots, but it's a lovely war film depicting a different side of battle than we're normally accustomed to seeing on screen.
Best scene in story:
Any time Sam and the young Italian boy, Angelo, interact, it's a warm and loving moment-- these scenes are the heart of the film.
Opinion about the main character:
Negron is a fairly neutral outside observer during most of the film, who keeps to himself, which makes him a hard read, but Alonso is a charismatic actor who makes it work.