Set in a unit of the U.S. infantry during the Italian campaign of 1944, this focuses on three soldiers. Fairchild (Wendell Corey) whom in civilian life had got by doing very little after marrying a rich woman, further doubts himself after failing to kill an enemy sniper. He is saved by his sergeant, known as Preacher (Don Taylor) a puritanical bigot whose upbringing has left him with all sorts of hang-ups with the notable exception of "Thou shalt not kill". Extrovert Willie Dooley (Mickey Rooney) is a compulsive and successful gambler, obsessed with winning as much as he can to set himself and his family up in the restaurant business after the war.
This is a mostly gripping film which succeeds in portraying the heroism, courage and spirit of self-sacrifice demanded of soldiers in battle without glorifying war. The leading actors are all good with Rooney's fast-talking ebullient character particularly memorable; his marathon crap game provides the film's funniest moments. Nicole Maurey gives a sensitive performance as a beautiful Italian girl with whom Preacher falls in love, prior to callously dumping her on learning she's previously been with other men for money to survive. Perhaps best of all is Wendell Corey, one of those actors who could create believable characters with hidden depths, while apparently doing very little, who brings a quiet integrity to the part of Fairchild. It's all introduced with a rousing march, to which Mickey Rooney supplied the lyrics.
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