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Sergeant York
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Reviews & Ratings for
Sergeant York More at IMDbPro »

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A Great Story That Happens To Be True

Author: atlasmb from United States
22 March 2014

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.

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No time for sergeants . . .

Author: Tad Pole from Vault Heaven
27 February 2014

*** 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.

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A very heartwarming tale of one man's journey towards betterment.

Author: Koosh_King01 from North Carolina
27 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alvin York is a good-for-nothing hoodlum in his Tennessee hometown. At least, that's what most of the townsfolk think. The most they ever really see of Alvin is when he and his buddies get boozed up and ride around hootin' and hollerin' on horseback, shooting their guns and generally being a dangerous nuisance.

But Alvin's mother knows the truth, that there is a different side to her son. His drinking problem and his violent temper aside, he's done a commendable job of looking after the York family ever since the death of his father, working their farm and pretty much singlehandedly taking care of his mother and his two younger siblings. He's also one of the finest sharpshooters in town. When he's sober, anyway. Unfortunately, the times when Alvin is sober are few and far between lately.

Desperate, Mrs. York asks their cousin, local preacher Pastor Rosier Pile, to try and talk some sense into her hellraising son. It doesn't go so well - Alvin isn't in much of a mood to listen. During one of his rare moments of sobriety, Alvin meets and falls in love with local girl Gracie Williams, but his brutish and antagonistic nature, including beating up and driving off a fellow suitor, aren't exactly endearing him to her. Not quite getting the hint, Alvin gets it into his head that if he can own his own piece of land, Gracie will come around and agree to marry him, so he swears off the booze for a while and starts doing odd jobs in an effort to buy some land.

However, when the man selling the land swindles him and sells it to the suitor Alvin beat up, a despairing Alvin hits the bottle again and becomes worse than ever. One dark and stormy night, he drunkenly decides to get his rifle and go and murder the land salesman for cheating him, over the objections of his buddies. On the way, though, a bolt of lightning strikes his gun, and an instantly sobered-up Alvin comes to the conclusion that this is a sign from God.

He swears of drinking and becomes a pacifist. He begins making amends with everyone he's ever wronged and everyone who's ever wronged him impressing Gracie with his new ways and making her fall in love with him. But just as things are looking up for Alvin, the US enters the Great War against Germany. Alvin, who now considers violence and killing morally wrong, tries to opt out as a conscientious objector, but the military isn't having it. His sharpshooting skills are just too good for them to pass up.

Fortunately, his life in the Army isn't all that bad. His superior Major Buxton is sympathetic to his views, and Alvin also meets and befriends "Pusher" Ross and Bert Thomas. His shooting skills soon earn him a promotion to corporal as well. All too soon, though, they're being shipped off to Europe. They aren't there long before Bert gets killed by enemy mortar fire, and, under the command of Sergeant Early, they storm a heavily-fortified German machine gun position.

An attempt to flank the Germans goes disastrously wrong. Although they capture the Germans' commanding officer Major Vollmer, enemy fire forces everyone to take refuge in a trench, where they're pinned down. A wounded Early gives Alvin command and tasks him with taking out the machine gun nests. Can the conflicted Alvin find a way of winning the battle by killing as few enemy soldiers as possible? Is there a way to stop the killing but still hold true to his pacifist beliefs? Leaving the captive Vollmer with Pusher, Alvin gathers his courage and charges across the battlefield towards his destiny.

Sergeant York is an amazing movie that shows how a man can change himself to become a better person, and take this betterment with him to use his pacifist ideals to bring a conflict to as non-violent a conclusion as possible, actions for which he'd earn the Medal of Honor.

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Excellent Biography.

Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
11 October 2013

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.

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Despite melodrama, it has a good heart.

Author: Sergeant_Tibbs from Suffolk, England
10 July 2013

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 himself.

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.


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Gary Cooper in his most outstanding role ever

Author: ( from United States
3 June 2012

*** 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.

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The inspiring story of a great hero

Author: dimplet from United States
15 July 2011

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.

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Simple Christian People in War Time

Author: naprn7 from United States
20 February 2011

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!!

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Great pic in Gary Cooper

Author: scw1217 from United States
10 May 2010

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 this role.

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.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great story, great man, great inspiration

Author: blanche-2 from United States
6 March 2009

Gary Cooper (the real Sergeant York's choice) is "Sergeant York" in this classic 1941 Howard Hawks film, also starring Walter Brennan, George Tobias, Joan Leslie, Margaret Wycherly, Ward Bond, and Noah Berry Jr.

The real York, as in the film, wasn't a man who used his fame for money. He agreed to this film because of his concerns over the war in Europe. (When America entered the war, he tried to enlist but was denied because of his age.) This is a story about patriotism and spirituality after all.

The film depicts York as a drunken slob who lived in Tennessee and got into a lot of fights, and that's just who he was. In real life, a friend's death shook him up and caused him to embrace religion, as his mother had wanted him to do. It's a little more dramatic in the film, and one of the best scenes in the movie. When it comes time to register for the draft, York planned on being a conscientious objector. However, his religious sect was deemed ineligible. In the movie, his expertise with a shotgun is discovered during training, and he's given time to go home and think about whether or not he wants to be a conscientious objector (in real life, it was just denied). He finds his answer in the Bible, and comes back to fight.

The film is done in an old-fashioned way - big, dramatic music, hokey accents and lots of "I reckons," but it touches the heart in a very profound way.

Gary Cooper gives a noble performance as a simple man with simple goals who becomes a hero by being fearless and drawing on what he learned living in the country. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent, right down to June Lockhart and Dickie Moore, who play York's siblings. York actually came from a family of 11 children, and he and his wife Gracie, whom Leslie plays, had seven.

A very stirring, beautiful film, a true no-miss.

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