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A good war drama adapted by George Seaton from a literate Maxwell Anderson play is given the typical Fox polish and an experienced director to counter a cast peppered with new young talent (notably Anne Baxter, William Eythe, Michael O'Shea, Henry Morgan and Vincent Price).
Of course, the film was intended as a morale-booster but, thankfully, the propaganda element (usually abetted by racist jibes) is kept at bay here; on the contrary, it strives to depict the characters as normal human beings who are thrust into extraordinary and often painful situations. Still, the expected doses of comedy (supplied by O'Shea) and romance (not only does country-boy Eythe become engaged to neighbor Baxter, but the whole gang gets to entertain a couple of lonely bar-room girls once in uniform) are present and accounted for; incidentally, it is odd seeing Price (looking quite youthful and serving as the butt of his buddies' jokes for his cerebral superiority being offset by perennial pennilessness!) amid this environment.
The last act involves the war action proper, and even this is largely taken up by two of the men (Price included)'s bouts with malaria; the finale, then, sees the squad who had been cornered in a cave effect a fortuitous escape by sea (apparently, the ending of the original play was more downbeat) followed by the voluntary conscription of Eythe's younger brother. By the way, the title is a reference to an obscure Catholic feast where, it is said, that one can see the figures of those about to die upon entering a church(!) hence making for an ideal wartime metaphor.
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