In the 1943 invasion of Italy, one American platoon lands, digs in, then makes its way inland to blow up a bridge next to a fortified farmhouse, as tension and casualties mount. Unusually realistic picture of war as long quiet stretches of talk, punctuated by sharp, random bursts of violent action whose relevance to the big picture is often unknown to the soldiers.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the men find the farmhouse and are deciding to storm it, they are by the tree. Two men are ordered to go down to the road. Richard Conte and another actor go. The camera pans back and you can see the boom shadow on the tree. See more »
Where are we going, Rivera?
I am going someplace where I can set up this weapon. Then I am going to shoot this weapon. I am not gonna walk any more!
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Opening credits: It was just a little walk In the warm Italian sun But it was not an easy thing And poets are writing The tale of that fight And songs for children to sing See more »
I usually hate to name a favorite film in a genre because I always have several I rate equally well, but, if asked to name one that tops the rest I have to say, in the WWII genre, this film is it. It is an intelligent and honest film about men in war; no heroics, no jingoism, no evil enemy, just regular Joes who are caught up in something big and deadly and would rather be home, but are doing their job. There are no clichés, no obligatory guy from Brooklyn, no high sounding phrases, no patriotic slogans, just an honest and realistic depiction of strictly ordinary guys caught in war. Lewis Milestone, the director, obviously understood the combat soldier.
I love the dialog, the banter among the men of "a fighting platoon", especially that between Pvts Rivera, played by Richard Conte, and Friedman, played by George Tyne. Coincidentally, Dana Andrews, one of my favorite actors, character is Sgt. Tyne. I wonder what was made of that by actor George Tyne. The cast also includes a young Lloyd Bridges and Huntz Hall, in the only roll I can recall seeing him in outside the East Side Kids/ Bowery Boys films.
The novel by Harry Brown, from which the film was made, was republished a few years ago and the dialog in the film is lifted straight out of it, which is part of what makes the film so great. In fact, this is one of those rare cases where the movie follows the book faithfully, almost to the letter.
I was nine years old when this film was released and I well remember the night I first saw it. My parents, who have just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, thought it was a romance film. I didn't want to go but when we arrived at the old Westmore Theater, now long gone, which was in walking distance of our home, and I saw the lobby photos and saw it was a war film, I was the one delighted. There was always at least one scene from these films that stayed in my mind over the years and in this one it was the hand of the German soldier with the ring on it hanging out of the wrecked armored vehicle, and the assault on the farmhouse.
"It was just a little walk in the warm Italian sun, but it wasn't an easy thing."
An excellent film made from an excellent novel with an excellent cast, all making an excellent viewing experience.
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