‘Ritchie Boys’


The horror of war gets gently upstaged by the wit and wisdom of the vets interviewed in this solid WWII doc. The Ritchie Boys were mostly refugees of Nazism who came to America filled with rage at the rape of Europe and ready to take up arms against Hitler. Many were artists or intellectuals, not exactly natural fighters, but still desperate to enlist and help liberate their homelands. Listening to these men reminisce about their experiences at Camp Ritchie, where they were trained as interrogators of P.O.W.’s, is an education. These are men who know of what they speak; they’re also eloquent, erudite, and funny as hell. Sitting in on a car ride with two of the Ritchie Boys feels like wandering backstage at a Friars Club roast. Of course, war is serious business and these soldiers know that better than anyone. If civilians could smell the stench of war for just a second, says one, they’d become pacifists. Another counters the romantic notion of a parachute jump, saying that nobody jumps out of a plane, they step out. The film happily sticks to its regal subjects, avoiding speculation about whether military interrogations aren’t quite what they used to be.