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"The Fighting 69th" is a First World War regiment of mostly New York-Irish soldiers. Amongst a cocky crew, perhaps the cockiest is Jerry Plunkett, a scrappy fellow who looks out only for himself. The officers and non-coms of the regiment do their best to instill discipline in Plunkett, and the chaplain, Father Duffy, tries to make Plunkett see the greater good, all to no avail. Behind the lines or in the trenches, Plunkett acts selfishly and cowardly, eventually costing the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. A final act of cowardice leads to terrible consequences, but Plunkett sees in them a chance to redeem himself...if only he can. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When I first viewed "The Fighting 69th", I was probably 8 years old, around 1948 I'd say. It literally scared me out into the lobby more than once. At that age you're not ready for trench warfare that up close and personal. Being Irish, Catholic and a kinship with people named O'Brien, I have always liked this movie on many levels for a variety of reasons. I have watched this film many times over the years, including a "colorized" version, when they were in vogue. Now comes the definitive DVD copy of the film. I watched it again in all it's 42 inch LCD, near "Hi-Def", glory again recently. I was affected by it again but in an entirely different way. Basically the story is about bright, mostly full of pluck and good humor, young men who want to get this war over with and get home again. Now it could be viewed an "anti-war" movie in some ways. It also very much is like the young men,today, shedding blood in hell holes named Iraq and Afganistan. Quite a comparison. It hit home. I'm an older man and I cried and sniffled through the entire film, and I know the film! I didn't have any lobby to run out into. Bobsluckycat, in all his reviews, has tried to give you some out of the box appreciation for whatever film he reviews and this is no exception. Yes, the stars are all fine, but look to the mostly young supporting cast, many of whom would go off to WWII and come back having served proudly and heroically, and you'll see the meat of this film. William Lundigan, George Reeves, and many many others with a line or two here and there just outstanding and would go on to long acting careers post war. Gwinn "Big Boy" Williams, Frank McHugh, Dick Foran, Sammy Cohen among many of the "pros" doing superior work. Not one casting note rings false throughout. World War I does not play well in color, with the exception of John Fords' "What Price Glory" also starring Cagney, maybe. It's meant to be in black and white. Today, it's not the "rah,rah" picture it was made to be, but a stark reminder that war kills our youngest and brightest before they mature to fullness, just as today. In that light, It's one of the best war movies EVER made, period.
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