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Olivia de Havilland,
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During the Civil War, a young man enthusiastically joins the Union army thirsting to find glory and honor, but his first battle opens his eyes to the reality of how un-glorious and dishonorable war really is.
Plot centers around how a young recruit (Audie Murphy) faces the horrors of war. Character vascilates between wanting to fight and doubting his own courage. In midst of first bloody encounter, Youth runs away. After seeing dead and wounded, sense of shame leads him back to his unit, where he distinguishes himself in the next battle. Having overcome his fear of "the great Death" he knows e can face whatever comes. Somewhat sentimental "coming of age" tale was pet project of John Huston, who fought MGM over casting of Murphy and Bill Mauldin in lead roles. Written by
This production amounted to a power struggle between Louis B. Mayer and producer Dore Schary. Mayer rejected the production (partly on account of it lacking women and thus a romance angle) and Schary insisted. Mayer appealed to Loew's Inc. chairman Nicholas Schenck and was rebuffed. This and other ego-bruising incidents that occurred during the same period resulted in Mayer's ouster from the company he helped found in 1924. As Mayer predicted the $1.6 million film flopped badly but by the Summer of 1951 he was out. See more »
The enlisted soldiers in the film are shown wearing the rectangular Model 1851 belt plate instead of the brass oval "US" belt plate worn by enlisted soldiers. See more »
Wives, dogs, and chestnut trees - the more you beat 'em the better they be.
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John Huston's camera and sense of drama and tension make this one of the best soldier's-eye movies ever made. You really get a feel for the confusion Civil War recruits must have experienced - not during battle, but before and after, when orders appear to be arbitrary and nothing is ever explained.
The cast is wonderful, including many who show up for less than 30 seconds, giving their all for their roles - Audie Murphy never had it so good with this material and backdrop. A truly literate action movie that has a soul and a vision.
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