A sensitive, educated black man's World War II-time problems. This is essentially the duplicate of his peace-time problems which are pointed up in a flashback of his life, and primarily of ... See full summary »
A sensitive, educated black man's World War II-time problems. This is essentially the duplicate of his peace-time problems which are pointed up in a flashback of his life, and primarily of his war-time adventures with four white soldiers on a dangerous reconnaissance mission on a Japanese-held island. Written by
A movie that addresses the issue of race in the military,but falls short.
If this curious little drama lived up to its intentions,it might have been one of the important war films. It was great in its premise with its performances and all,but it falls far short and is little more than a footnote in Hollywood's attempts to deal with American racism. Director Mark Robson starts out with two strikes against him. First off,Carl Foreman's script is based on Arthur Laurents's curiously contrived stage play. Second,Laurents's play is about anti-Semitism,and though it is easy to say that all bigotry springs from one source,discrimination against black people is different from discrimination against Jewish people. To claim that they are the same misunderstands both.
The action takes place on a nameless islands in the Pacific during World War II. In the opening scenes,a psychiatrist(Jeff Corey)tries to find out how Peter Moss(James Edwards),a black soldier,came to be paralyzed from the waist down. Moss is also amnesiac and so he can't remember what happened to him on his last mission. Major Robinson(Douglas Dick),and Mingo(Frank Lovejoy)tell the doctor what they know. They say that it was a reconnaissance patrol to an island held by the Japanese. Robinson picked Mingo,Finch(Lloyd Bridges),and T.J. Everett (Steve Brodie) to "volunteer" from his outfit. He had recruited Moss,an engineer from another division,to make maps of the island. Robinson was then surprised to learn that Moss was "colored." T.J. is openly racist,but it turns out that Finch and Moss are old pals from high school,where they played basketball together. Tensions within the group rise to the surface and explodes as soon as they're dropped on the island to face the enemy. And against each other.
Neither the depiction of jungle warfare nor the racial attitudes are remotely believable. Men on sentry duty at night chatter away like schoolchildren and smoke cigarettes constantly. T.J.'s expressions of racism and Moss's reactions are equally simplistic and false. And when,finally,the reasons for the paralysis are revealed,audiences today will groan in disbelief,which shocked audiences who went to see this picture in 1949. The resolution of the conflicts piles improbability upon improbability. That said,the filmmakers to deserve credit for addressing racial issues at a time when the entertainment industry generally ignored them,and when segregation was the law of the land. The year 1949 introduced not only this picture,but also another picture,Elia Kazan's "Pinky" that also address the issue of racism and segregation as well. As with "Home Of The Brave",the active recruitment of black soldiers,sailors,and airmen during World War II played a huge part in changing that,and the stories of that change have yet to be fully told. This movie was a small first step in addressing the issue of racism in America during the 1940's.
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