A New War Film, “Ardennes Fury”

Ardennes Fury

A new film, a recent release with the wartime scenario of the Battle of the Bulge serving as the backdrop for a group of soldiers as part of Operation Ardennes Fury. They are behind German lines and must find and arrive at their meeting point in a matter of hours. Though their time is short, they alter their route in order to help a nun and group of orphans to safety.

Four Pensacolan natives of Florida take part in scenes during the film which is based on a true story that took place during the last months of the war. Lawrence Gamell Jr. is an 51 year old professor at Pensacola State College and a full-time actor. “This is a popcorn military movie,” he said, playing the part of Sgt. Nathaniel Rose as one of the leads in the film. “You can go ahead and sit down with the family and they won’t hear a lot of bad language or see any nudity or stuff like tha,” he went on. “They can sit down and see an old-fashioned movie like they used to see in the ’50s and the ’40s. It takes you back in time.”

Another Pensacolan, Analiese Anderson, plays the part of a French nun named Mother Mary, a real figure in the events that took place, now relived in the film. “I don’t have a military background as far as me being in the military, but my stepfather was a lieutenant colonel in the Army,” she recalled. “I lived the Army life but I never saw this part of it, obviously. But basically you learn it by the script.”

As part of her role, she was required to use a French accent, which surprised her but she soon worked into the role with the other actors. “It helps when all the actors are experienced and they know what they’re doing. You get into it. You don’t have to have been in that era but you get into the roles. You can’t help it,” she added. “Sometimes I’ll go, ‘Wow, I’m crying!’ I didn’t mean to but it fits,”

The director Joseph Lawson wanted Garnell as the only black actor to play his part without the stereotype of the black man of that time as seen in other films. His character spoke on the same level with his fellow soldiers in the field without sterotypical mannerisms for that time.

Garnell was a bit surprised. “I was able to give orders as (the lead’s) confidant,” he said. “Like, we were doing this together and not apart. That was important.”

“Knowing that that was there and that they wanted me to do something that made people proud and that wasn’t stereotypical was really cool,” He went on, “To have The Aslym say, ‘No go for it. We don’t want an accent, we just want you to play it straight,’ was cool.”

They were asked to leave their uniforms unwashed to look more authentic, noted Garnell, playing soldiers in the field traveling through the countryside. “We kept each other going,” He said about their work. “We talked a lot after the shoot about how important it was to do this correct and work with each other and make the best out of it.”

Garnell and Anderson were both very glad to take part in the film. “It’s the kind of film a kid would watch and say, ‘I want to be a soldier when I grow up.’ It’s that kind of movie,”

Appropriately, Veteran’s Day was the film’s premier and it can now be found at Amazon.com.
Playing feature roles in a recently released WWII movie, four Pensacola actors and actresses got to re-enact scenes based on true events in the film “Ardennes Fury.”

The film, produced by The Asylum, takes place in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Mountains on the Western Front in northwest Europe. In an attempt to divide the Allied Forces, Adolf Hitler executed a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the mountains surprising the American soldiers, who formed what looked like a large bulge — giving way to the name of the battle — that led to the neutralization of the Germans.

Director Joseph Lawson focused on the American military troops stuck behind Nazi lines. In Operation Ardennes Fury, the soldiers have only a few hours to get to a meeting point. However, along the way, they take a detour to save a nun and orphans.

“This is a popcorn military movie,” said Lawrence Gamell Jr., 51, an adjunct professor at Pensacola State College as well as a full-time actor who played Sgt. Nathaniel Rose, the third lead, in the film.

“You can go ahead and sit down with the family and they won’t hear a lot of bad language or see any nudity or stuff like that. They can sit down and see an old-fashioned movie like they used to see in the ’50s and the ’40s,” he said. “It takes you back in time.”

Pensacolians that participated in the film included Analiese Anderson, Lawrence Gamell Jr., James Poule, Colleen Sinor and Eric Schmitz.

In addition to pursuing acting, Anderson, 50, works for the state of Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. For the movie, she channeled the role of Mother Mary, a French missionary nun.

To prepare for the film, the actors and actresses relied on the assistance and expertise of a military consultant, Lt. Col. Paul Sinor. And while Sinor helped them with military etiquette and protocol, Anderson and Gamell had their own preparation techniques.

“I don’t have a military background as far as me being in the military,” Anderson said. “But my stepfather was a lieutenant colonel in the Army. I lived the Army life but I never saw this part of it, obviously. But basically you learn it by the script.”

Unexpectedly, Anderson was instructed to give her character a French accent and while the change concerned her, she was able to get into the role and adjust quickly, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

“It helps when all the actors are experienced and they know what they’re doing. You get into it,” she said. “You don’t have to have been in that era but you get into the roles. You can’t help it. Sometimes I’ll go, ‘Wow, I’m crying!’ I didn’t mean to but it fits,” she said.

One experience that sticks out in Gamell’s mind is that the actors portraying soldiers weren’t allowed to wash their uniforms because they wanted the apparel to look as authentic as possible.

“We kept each other going,” Gamell said. “We talked a lot after the shoot about how important it was to do this correct and work with each other and make the best out of it.”

Gamell was the only black man in the film and was pleasantly surprised that Lawson wanted him to play his character in a more-updated fashion. Instead of playing the Hollywood stereotypical black man of the 1940s, Gamell’s character spoke the same as the white soldiers and Lawson even promoted him.

“I was able to give orders as (the lead’s) confidant,” Gamell said. “Like, we were doing this together and not apart. That was important.”

“Knowing that that was there and that they wanted me to do something that made people proud and that wasn’t stereotypical was really cool,” Gamell said. “To have The Aslym say, ‘No go for it. We don’t want an accent, we just want you to play it straight,’ was cool.”

“Ardennes Fury” premiered on Veterans Day and is available on Amazon. Anderson and Gamell were thrilled to be a part of the cast.

“It’s the kind of film a kid would watch and say, ‘I want to be a soldier when I grow up.’ It’s that kind of movie,” Gamell said.