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True-life account of the military career of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in WWII. Native of Texas, he was placed in charge of his many younger siblings on the death of his mother and decided to join the military at the age of 18 to provide for them. His many acts of bravery and heroism during the US military advance through Italy, France and into Germany earn him increasing rank and responsibility as well as the respect of his comrades in arms. Eventually he receives two dozen of the highest medals the US and France can bestow, culminating in the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Audie Murphy, the greatest hero of World War II, was always a seriously underrated actor, and he had a great screen presence. This movie was a chance to make film history by featuring Murphy in his own exciting story, something that's never been done before or since. Well, Universal blew it! Not by their standards, of course, they made a lot of money. But as time goes on, this movie hasn't been well regarded, and it falls flat on contemporary viewers. Future generations will generally dismiss it.
The battle scenes play like a Disney version of the war, so sanitized the main role might have been played by Hayley Mills. Murphy adopts this curiously detached and semi- bored manner throughout the story, looking uneasy in his own uniform. You might have thought this film would have plenty of technical advisors, including Murphy himself, but everything---the gear, the scenery---looks and feels wrong. The Italian campaign, it seems, was fought in a sunny backlot, against fake Germans wearing fake uniforms with fake weapons.
Most of the other actors fit blandly into their goofy patterned innocent/naive American farmboy roles, and it wears thin after a while. Halfway through, I got the feeling that this could have been a great war classic if it had been aimed a little higher than the junior ROTC crowd. A more bitter and savage tone, tempered with American optimism, the kind of attitude that I understand Mr. Murphy actually had later in life, would have worked.
Even though I was disappointed, I still recommend watching this film because of my admiration for Audie Murphy, and to observe a particular attitude about war that was common in 1950s America. In some ways, after the crusade in Europe, that attitude was justified.
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