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|Index||88 reviews in total|
All war films have a vested interest in some degree of propaganda,
usually for or against any armed conflict. But few come close to the
sheer cinematic perfection of "Sergeant York" in this regard. To make a
film so thoroughly entertaining is just an added "plus."
Casting is always a major consideration in any motion picture, and it's not an overstatement to say that without the choice of Gary Cooper in the lead, it would have suffered as a consequence. He was brilliant... his "aw, shucks" demeanor fitting so seamlessly with the role. All of the many other essential performances in this film were equally brilliant, filling the roles of the many characters in York's life with aplomb. This movie does many things exceptionally well, the telling of a man's life and monumental accomplishments with both grace, charm, and heart.
This is a film I never tire of, and never will.
I can't say I find Gary Cooper a great all-around actor. But when he
plays a character that is socially backward or awkward, he does a great
job. In Sergeant York, he is convincing as the real-life Alvin York. I
view this portrayal of a conscientious objector who deals with his
inner doubts a companion piece to Cooper's great performance in
Friendly Persuasion (1956).
This is a compelling story about a simple man of principle. The fact that it is mostly a true story is icing on the cake. The plot, both before and after it involves WWI, is totally engaging.
The hokey religious sub-story is mostly true, too. But the plot does a good job of showing that a man of conscience can interpret biblical passages to support any point of view (or its contrary), and shows that the final decision comes from within the man doing the soul searching if he is a self-determinant, which York is. He may be influenced by others, but his decisions are his own. And he always sticks to his principles.
The rest of the cast is excellent, especially Walter Brennan as Pastor Pile.
There are few stories in cinema that are as compelling as Sergeant York, so I recommend it to all. The main character is a hero in more than war.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . as every corporal has his day, but Sgt. Early becomes a late non-commissioned officer. SERGEANT YORK depicts a "feel good" conflict; war at its best, as comrades who've just had their brains blown out by artillery shell shrapnel are accused of napping on the job, mortally wounded men spin in 540-degree pirouettes straight off the ballet stage as they succumb, and war criminals identify themselves immediately when questioned in a language they can't comprehend so they can be executed on the spot. (No drawn out trials, conflicted defense lawyers, or hangings for them; No Siree, just a quick bullet in their back.) Everything is done by the book, and that Book is the Bible. Hardened German infantry troops are not quite as smart was wild American turkeys, giving an experienced gobbler slayer from Tennessee's Daniel Boone Country a distinct advantage. Going from a Conscientious Objector applicant to America's most decorated WWI hero is kind of like one person going from being Cassius Clay to being Colin Powell. According to this movie, SERGEANT YORK, Corporal Alvin Cullum York's real life war exploits were far easier than making a living on his Tennessee farm. As today's economy reduces millions of Americans to Alvin's Pre-War economic status, expect to see scores more Sergeant Yorks emerging from the woodwork.
Howard Hawks directed Gary Cooper(in an Academy Award winning best actor performance) as Alvin C. York, a Tennessee man who starts off as a drunken hell raiser who is a source of embarrassment to his mother, who still steadfastly stands by him. He turns his life around when, after an accident in a thunderstorm, he sees the light, and converts to his grateful pastor(played by Walter Brennan) becoming a fervent follower, which means a pacifist. He also buys some bottom land, and marries the girl he loves, named Gracie. When WWI breaks out, York is drafted into the army, and does a great deal of soul-searching before deciding to go, and ends up becoming the most decorated soldier of the war, singlehandedly capturing a group of German soldiers by using the same technique applied to winning Turkey shoots! Excellent direction and performances, good script combine to make a memorable film, that is all true, even if it does seem incredible.
Howard Hawks is truly shaping up to be a director who can bring out
timeless movie magic out of any genre. It's easy to see his influence
everywhere in the most charming contemporary mainstream movies. While
this is a war film, the war doesn't come into it until the last hour,
devoting the first to character development. It's almost as if the
character, who begins the film a hopeless brute, proves himself to the
audience and then to the world with his heroic act. He's a very
compassionate and modest character, and with a redemption story behind
him, he's very easy to support, even if there's a hint of silliness
with Gary Cooper playing a character around 15 years younger than
It's a film with a good heart, and although it can be melodramatic, it's very emotional and rarely sentimental. While it's known for being released at a point where American's were going to World War II, there's a debate about whether it's a pro or anti-war film, while it at once encourages Americans to fight, the character argues that it's wrong throughout. I think it's neither, and rather an anti-violence film and tries to prove that wars shouldn't be fought with violence. While it's patriotic nature can be up for debate and despite its heavy-handed religious side, Sergeant York is classic filmmaking and definitely bumps Howard Hawks into being one of my favourite directors of all-time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie about the famous Sergeant Alvin York is a Gary Cooper movie I would be able to see, as I have, repeatedly. Cooper parlays well his versatile acting ability as a hillbilly from waaaayy back is the sticks of Tennessee who proved himself as an adept soldier. As a minister, I am always impressed by stories about people who have strong Christian convictions, as did York. Gary Cooper portrays that type of person very convincingly. At the same time, Walter Brennan was excellent in the role of the mentoring pastor who was very much of a help and encourager toward the perplexed man. Not only could potential GI's learn how to be in character and military ability, but this movie does strongly show forth the fact that any one, no matter what type of environment in which he is raised, can better himself and, of course, prove himself. Not only are there exciting World War I scenes in this cinematic piece, but it is also a warm and inspiring movie.
I find it amazing that there are foreigners who seem to take any
American-made war movie as an opportunity to bash the United States,
even when it was not America that started the war. With "Sergeant
York," it's their loss.
Alvin York was a real person, and this is a 95 percent true story. When this movie came out, it was seen not only by his friends and family, but by a nation that knew his story from the news accounts two decades before.
From Bosley Crowther's New York Times film review of July 3, 1941:
"While the real-life hero himself sat among the audience, 'Sergeant York,' the Warner Brothers film on the life of the Tennessee mountaineer who became America's greatest hero of the last war, held its prèmiere last night at the Astor, attended by delegations from Sergeant Alvin C. York's home State, notables of the screen world and government and Army officials ....
"Accepting the applause of the audience on behalf of his comrades in the Meuse-Argonne exploit resulting in the capture of 132 Germans, Sergeant York later expressed the wish that the film would contribute to 'national unity in this hour of danger,' adding that 'millions of Americans, like myself, must be facing the same questions, the same uncertainties which we faced and I believe resolved for the right some twenty-four years ago.' "
York was one of the greatest war heroes of our country, a man of genuine modesty who sought to use his fame not for personal profit, but to help others, including the building of a road and school for his neighbors. You can read more about his life online.
It is said by those who knew her that Margaret Wycherly bore a remarkable resemblance in looks and manner to York's mother. Though worn down like a river pebble in an Appalachian stream, she understood a thing or two, like when Alvin put a handful of soil on a plate:
"That there's bottom land soil, ain't it?
"Queer how the folks that lives on the bottom looks down on the folks on top.
"'Twere always that way. Ain't no changin' it."
Alvin sets out to change it, and fails. But he never gives up, and never forgets his roots. This is not just a war movie about courage in battle; it is about the courage of character.
York started out life as a "hillbilly": a poor, uneducated person who lives in a rural, mountainous area, in this case, Tennessee's Cumberland hills of the Appalachian range. The term has become stereotyped, in part from "The Beverly Hillbillies," but archaeological research has shown that many of these families were more affluent and better read than most knew; they just happened to like living a quiet life in the mountains, in areas that now often host luxury homes.
These real hillbillies were good, hard working, honest people. Here is what Crowther said in his review:
"The picture has all the flavor of true Americana, the blunt and homely humor of backwoodsmen and the raw integrity peculiar to simple folk."
Alvin York brought a pure, simple integrity into the heart of battle: the European trenches of World War I. He didn't scheme, he didn't calculate, he just did what was right.
York's purity of soul brings to mind another simple country lad: England's King Arthur, who was able to pull the sword from the stone because of his pure heart. But York, when he was offered money and power, turned them down.
Sergeant York is one of America's great heroes. But I hope others can find inspiration in him, too, and in this wonderful movie.
Best Real Life Depiction of Simple Christian People,, not wealthy, not
proud.. far from the TV evangelist kind..
Hard working dedicated folk to their family, land, and church.
Farm life depicts the cascading ups and downs of real life.. you plant, you water, you wait patiently for the increase.
these people had no want ads.. computers, cell phones.. they talk with each other, depend on each other, real grass roots..
we could use some of that in 2011. Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan and Joan Leslie give me the encouragement to imitate them,, they model real honest, genuine, transparent people.. no hype.. no facades,, the kind of people you want as neighbors and co workers as well as friends!!
Being a history buff, I had read the story of Sergeant York, and so was
interested in seeing the portrayal of it. Gary Cooper was super at
creating such a reluctant hero. His mannerisms, even his speech, really
set the tone for who the character would become. I also fell in love
with his mother. What a sweet lady! June Lockhart was phenomenal in
I thought the backdrop of the film from the mountains to the war theatre was actually done very well. I have watched some old films where it looked like a backdrop. I don't know much about how they did these things before computer animation, but this film's scenes were well set.
The story itself was great. I love seeing a true story come to life and enjoyed the happy ending. I highly recommend this film, but be sure to read the story of Alvin York for yourself.
This film is one of the few films that's known to be completely
accurate. And it's an excelelnt film. both as a film and as a
biography. Mr. Cooper puts in a splendid, well deserved Best Actor
Oscar winning performance. He did Alvin York complete justice in his
brilliant portrayal of him. In fact...Alvin York himself wanted Coop to
play him. I know York was honored with Coop's portrayal. York started
off as a simple farm boy then became a hero. I truly do recommend this
film to anyone.
Everything about this film is perfect: the script, the performances/the cast, the score and the direction.
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