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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
Early in the film, Henry Fleming is shown writing a letter to his family. The date at the top of the letter is 10 September 1862. This makes the battle depicted in the film either Turner's Gap, South Mountain, MD, on Sept 14 or Antietam Creek (Sharpsburg), MD, on Sept 17. Scholars generally agrees that the battle in the novel is more like Chancellorsville, VA, in May 1863. The novel never names a place or gives a date. One year after the publication of the novel, Stephen Crane wrote a short story entitled "The Veteran," published in "McClure's" magazine. In the story Henry Fleming is an old man telling the story of his first battle in the Civil War. There Fleming identifies the battle as being Chancellorsville. See more »
In close-ups of Henry Fleming, particularly in the initial engagement with the enemy, the lock plate on his musket is apparently stamped near the rear with a British Crown. While British arms were used by the Confederates lacking sufficient arms production capabilities, Fleming's group would have been issued US-produced rife muskets. In a close-up of another soldier, the US eagle stamped on the lock plate is clearly visible. See more »
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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