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Sergeant York
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Sergeant York More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Heartfelt cinema from Hawks

8/10
Author: sme_no_densetsu from Canada
21 August 2010

"Sergeant York" tells the story of Alvin York, a Tennessee hillbilly who ended up becoming the most decorated American soldier of WWI; this despite his original stance as a conscientious objector. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a war film since the plot spends as much (or more) time focusing on York's life outside of the military.

One of the film's eleven Oscar nominations went to the screenwriters, who were certainly deserving in my eyes. Sure, a few liberties were taken with York's story but, in general, the script stays pretty close to the truth. To be honest, the real story is compelling enough, what with the interesting juxtaposition of pacifism and wartime heroics.

The cast deserves a lot of the credit for making the film work. Gary Cooper was the ideal choice for the title character and his performance doesn't disappoint. That he won an Oscar for this role isn't surprising at all. Perhaps even more deserving, though, was fellow Oscar nominee Margaret Wycherly, as York's mother. There are scenes of her's where her expression alone conveys more than words ever could. Another standout is Walter Brennan, who picked up the last of his four Oscar nominations here. I won't single out any more of the supporting cast but suffice to say that they are wholly dependable.

Howard Hawks' direction landed him the sole Oscar nomination of his career. He does a fine job throughout, from rustic set-pieces to the heat of battle. The film garnered several nominations in technical categories, including cinematography and scoring. The capper was the Best Picture nomination, certainly warranted given the film's all-around polish.

Ultimately, "Sergeant York" is a stirring film that has held up nicely. The war scenes, while gritty for the time, may seem a bit sanitized to today's viewers but I'd say that the strength of the film's emotional content makes this complaint a minor one. Whether you like war films or not, I recommend giving "Sergeant York" a try.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A personal story, my grandfather, Elias Alexander Lee knew Alvin York.

10/10
Author: Larry41OnEbay-2 from Culpeper, VA USA
23 April 2010

Usually I like to share with you interesting details about the film, like SERGEANT YORK was director Howard Hawks most successful film ever. Or point out the wonderful performances by Walter Brennan as the preacher or the amazing Margaret Wycherly as the mother. All three of these folks were rightly Oscar nominated.

I want to tell you short story from my childhood that my grandfather told me. My grandfather, Elias Alexander Lee knew Alvin York. My grandpa grew up in Livingston, Tennessee the next county over from the tiny town of Pall Mall --Alvin's home town. And after World War One, Alvin York would have my granddad come to pick him up because my Grandfather's mules were the only ones that could cross the deep creek safely on the road to Nashville for the annual VFW fundraisers he would attend once a year. Grandpa told me Alvin was shy, soft spoken and just about as nice & polite a guy you would ever hope to meet.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

memories

10/10
Author: pop_pop2 from United States
21 February 2008

i watched this film today,and recalled the time i first saw this movie with Gary cooper,back in the early '40's..it touched me more today at my age than when i was just a kid,,looking back,i have to wonder that somewhere in the back of my mind,if this film wasn't responsible in some way,for so many of the things i did as a young boy,with regard to the heroism portrayed in the film.i doubt if anyone will read this,so i must confess,that in'47,i ran into a burning home,,and rescued a child,before the firemen could get there,and just walked away,or the time i saved a drowning man..there are a few more incidents,where i did what had to be done,,forgotten now by all but me..

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My Favorite War Movie

10/10
Author: rickhavoc1 from United States
3 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm a real movie lover, in fact I love so many movies that I can't name a single favorite, unless I get specific about the genre. I would also say that my favorite genre is war movies, so I'm really saying something when I say that this is my favorite war movie. First of all, Alvin C. York has been a personal Christian hero of mine since childhood, as I think he should be regarded by every American, whatever their religious beliefs or political convictions. The way he stood up for what he believed should be an inspiration to us all, especially when he was tempted with wealth and fame and turned it down flat. If there's a problem with the movie, it's the way they oversimplified these aspects of the story. But this is usually something movie makers have to do, both to keep movies from being too long and to avoid stepping on toes. Most film buffs know that Alvin York himself chose Gary Cooper to portray him, and stipulated it in his contract. This was an inspired choice, and to me, one more proof that there IS a God, and that believers can hear His voice. Gary Cooper deserved his Oscar. Actually, I think that the casting of this movie was as close to perfection as can be achieved in this world. My only problem with the movie is the way it depicts Alvin York as a "conscientious objector". Although he did have doubts, HE never sought c.o. status, it was his mother and his pastor who tried to get it FOR him. When he was presented with the papers and told all he had to do was sign them, he REFUSED to do so. Anyone who wants to confirm this can do so by reading his diary here: http://acacia.pair.com/Acacia.Vignettes/The.Diary.of.Alvin.York.html

Actually, since I saw someone post something here about the causes and results of WWI, basically implying that the US shouldn't have gotten involved, I want to say something in rebuttal. First, the only thing about the causes Americans should be concerned about is the reason the USA entered the war, which is the same reason we fought England in 1812. Which was to defend the right of Americans to navigate the oceans of the world in peace, unmolested by the ships of other countries. Second, in 1916 President Wilson and the rest of our leaders had no way of knowing what the outcome would be, or what unreasonable demands our allies would impose on the losers if we helped them win. So we had no crystal ball to tell us ahead of time that the seeds of the next world war would be contained in the treaty that ended the first. So, that's why the U.S. Senate wouldn't ratify the Treaty of Versailles or join the League of Nations.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I done forgot the Lord! I ain't never gonna forget him again!

9/10
Author: lastliberal from United States
28 May 2007

I love this movie. It is not just about war, but about a man who struggled against impossible odds to just be a good man and make a living.

Gary Cooper won a golden statue for his portrayal of Alvin York. He made this beloved character from the hills come alive in a away that I don't believe anyone else could. I feel as if I know York personally after seeing this film.

But it wasn't just Cooper that made this film what it was. Walter Brennon, with three Oscars to his name at the time, played what is probably his best role as the simple preacher. Margaret Wycherly as Mother York was equally good as a simple woman who tried to guide her family. These were simple people and their goodness came through in this movie.

Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, Red River) was at his directorial zenith with this film. It was a masterpiece.

Everything was just top notch: sound, cinematography, score, art direction; it was just a beautiful work of art.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Sergeant York

7/10
Author: Davey van Lienden from Netherlands
7 December 2002

Today i watched this movie and it gave a me an impression of hard working people who do everything to get it better, it's a great story with a great believe in the lord. the only mistake is that Gary Cooper is too old to play sergeant York, But he deserve the oscar he get.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good clean movie for a large audience.

9/10
Author: movie-buff from Louisiana
14 March 2001

This is not just a war movie. It is that, but it has characterization, dialogue and other aspects of good movies. On the war front, it is definitely the "soft side of war" totally unlike Pvt. Ryan. Yet the real life hero of this movie, Alvin York, has said numerous times and ways how bad war is and he did not want to profit from this movie. It's a good look at religious based C.O. view of fighting in a war.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good Flick

Author: Stuart M. Reynolds from Simi Valley, california
16 September 2000

This is a good representation of one of the greatest heros of wwI. Gary Cooper is totally believable as the sharpshooter Alvin C. York. I'd say if they made this movie today he would be regarded as a right wing gun nut but, lets remember our heritage is full of good people who own guns. The only thing I can see is wrong with this fine movie is the rifle used in the movie was a 1903 springfield when in reality it was a p-17 enfield he was issued. All in all this is a very watchable movie.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Just like a turkey shoot!.

10/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
17 June 2008

Alvin York of Tennessee was a simple backwoods farm boy who liked a drink and a scrap, then one day, fuelled by drink and anger in his heart, an event gave him religion and a new found respect for life. However the advent of World War 1, and his subsequent call to duty, tore his pacifist state of mind apart, torn between a patriotic sense of duty and his religious beliefs, Alvin York of Tennessee was to become the name on everyones lips in 1918.

Sergeant York is pretty much close to being the perfect template for biography movies, what makes this piece stand out {and stand up proud} is the makers willingness to tell the tale from the humble beginnings of its protagonist, and then ease it thru to the end without feeling the need to rush there. Some allegations of it being a tad slow for its own good may well be valid, but for those of us who crave ultimate detail and flesh on the bones of main characters, well Sergeant York is a peerless joy. By the time that the critical point in York's life is realised, we the audience care so much because we have been party to his life story, from hard working farm boy to falling in love with Gracie, and onto his World War 1 heroics, Alvin York feels like one of us because of the work that all involved did here.

Producer Jesse Lasky literally spent years trying to persuade the real life York in letting him film his story, the humble and modest Tennessean kept refusing until finally relenting with some conditions. One was that the proceeds go to charity {truly befitting the man that}, two that a non-smoking actress play his wife Gracie, and another that Gary Cooper play the title role!, well he got his wishes, and what a result it turned out to be. Cooper was initially against taking the job but soon relented after a meeting with York himself, Cooper then requested that Howard Hawks direct, which turned out to be the case in the end, but only after the studio failed to attract Michael Curtiz, Henry Koster and a few other notable directors of he time.

As it turned out this was a perfect subject for Hawks, Alvin York boasting all the human traits in a man that Hawks admired, and with Gary Cooper operating on full tilt the resulting picture is a stirring emotive classic that never falls to gung-ho theatrics, in fact the critical war sequences here are wonderfully subtle. Backing Hawks up is the excellent Sol Polito, who's photography is simply precious here, have a look at one scene as York sits on a cliff edge with is hound, contemplating his being in the war, it's in half silhouette and just gives me tingles on my spine, such is its impact.

Critics of the time were mixed on Sergeant York, and many people felt that the film was over propagandist in its aims?, well time has been kind to the film and i find the story, and the technical brilliance on show, to be truly remarkable, 10/10.

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15 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Decent, But Forgettable

6/10
Author: jonathon_naylor from Manitoba, Canada
20 August 2006

A decent though largely forgettable truth-based war film. Gary Cooper (handpicked for the role) stars at Sgt. Alvin York, a pacifist who becomes an unlikely hero in the First World War. Using his country-learned sharpshooting skills, the sarge attacks and captures a German position.

The biggest drawback of "Sergeant York" is that it takes so long to gather steam. While the purpose of the first half is to introduce us to York and his transformation from a small-town troublemaker into a man of honor, it's often drawn out and filled with irrelevant details, sort of like an autobiography written by a man much more interested in his own life than the reader.

It's a different story once York finally makes it onto the battlefield. Suddenly the film is more vibrant and less convoluted as we are treated to the tale of a genuine (though reluctant) war hero. The finale is the highpoint, as York's peaceful beliefs come face-to-face with the reality of war. Cooper, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, is another highlight.

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