Sgt. Thorne Ryan, who once fought bravely in Korea, now serves as a hard-nosed drill instructor to new Army recruits at Fort Bliss, Texas. But is he really the man he is often described as?... See full summary »
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Joseph M. Newman
Sgt. Thorne Ryan, who once fought bravely in Korea, now serves as a hard-nosed drill instructor to new Army recruits at Fort Bliss, Texas. But is he really the man he is often described as? His fellow instructor, and friend helps him to face the ghosts of his past experiences in Korea. One night in a bar across the border in Juarez, Mexico, Sgt. Ryan meets a lady who begins to turn his life around. Will this be enough to help him deal with the past? Or will he continue to be so hard on his troops? This movie was filmed mostly on location at Fort Bliss, Texas in El Paso. Written by
Vincent Merlaud <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ryan, Holt, and the soldiers and recruits at Ft. Bliss wear the shoulder patch of the 4th Army - a white four-leaf clover on a red diamond. The 4th Army was activated in 1932 as the U.S. Western Defense Command. During World War II, the 4th Army operated the Louisiana maneuver area, and was credited with training about half the combat units that went overseas. See more »
When Ryan and Holt have the troops on a training exercise in the field, Ryan tells Holt to "get back to base." The Army doesn't refer to its facilities as bases. An actual solider would have said "get back to the post." See more »
Solid comedy/drama of basic training, expertly written and directed.
It is something of a misnomer to call this of the "War" genre. It is basically a comedy with some dramatic elements thrown in as well. The story (later paraphrased in the expert comedy, THE PRIVATE WAR OF MAJOR BENSON) is of a martinet of a marine sergeant, played by Richard Widmark, who's a cynic and a hardnosed drill man. We see him take a group of raw recruits and after numerous personality clashes, turn them into expertly trained and loyal soldiers. Widmark and Karl Malden work well together and the recruits are well played by Russ Tamblyn (at his most appealing), Robert Arthur, William Hairston, Jerome Courtland and Carleton Carpenter. Their own stories get to emerge and a number of psychological problems are cleared away by the end of the film, including Widmark's. The screenplay by Millard Kaufman was quite deservedly nominated for an Oscar. The expert direction of a young Richard Brooks also deserved a nod - we know we're in good hands here -he shows the promise he would later achieve in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and ELMER GANTRY. In addition to these two areas of expertise I would nominate Dimitri Tiomkin's score, both amusing and dramatic as it fits the scenes. This is a surprisingly good film - it is unfortunate that the title leads us to believe it is a combat film, when indeed it is not.
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