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To Hell and Back (1955) Poster

Trivia

Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him. They had worked together on three westerns--Sierra (1950), Kansas Raiders (1950) and The Cimarron Kid (1952).
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A total of 50,000 rounds of ammunition, 300 pounds of TNT, 600 pounds of blasting powder and ten cases of 40% dynamite were required for the filming of the battle scenes.
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Audie Murphy's war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
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In the DVD commentary for First Blood (1982) author David Morell cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo. In the final Rambo film (Rambo (2008)) he takes on hundreds of enemy soldiers with a .50-cal machine gun mounted on a vehicle, just as Audie Murphy does at the end of this film (and as he actually did during the battle).
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Audie Murphy was the most decorated US soldier of World War II. According to this film, when he applied for service with the Navy, the Marines and the Army he was turned down by all three branches. Moreover, when he joined his combat unit, one of his superiors considered transferring him out of the company for being unfit for combat.
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Of the 27 military decorations Audie Murphy received, all but one were awarded before he turned 19.
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The movie is said to be responsible for popularizing the term "dogface" in popular culture. "Dogface" was a term used during World War II to describe US Army combat infantrymen. Also, this movie features a song entitled, "Dogface Soldier".
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According to this film, Audie Murphy fought in seven major campaigns during World War II and received the Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross; from France he was awarded two Croix de Guerre medals with Palms and the Legion of Honour Chevalier. On August 9, 1945--just after his 19th birthday-- he was awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor that a soldier can be awarded.
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This movie was a box-office hit for Universal Pictures and its record was apparently not broken until Jaws (1975).
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One of the combat sequences centered around a fight to capture a German position in an abandoned Italian farmhouse. This included a scene where two German soldiers, manning an MG42 machine gun, are shown firing belts of ammunition at the attacking Americans. Apparently when the first takes of this action were made, using blank ammunition, it didn't look "real" enough. This perceived flaw was eventually resolved by filming two GIs from Fort Lewis, dressed as German troops, firing live ammunition from the machine gun. It was the only way that they could think of to get the impressive muzzle flash when the weapon was fired.
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The Holtzwihr Standoff took place in the winter under cold, muddy, rainy and snowy conditions; in the film it took place on a warm, bright, sunny day (probably because if the actual conditions were accurately portrayed it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to film).
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According to the "Variety Movie Guide", Audie Murphy " . . . gets into the army in 1942 at 16. In 1943, Murphy became a replacement in Company B, 15th Infantry Regiment, Third Division, 7th Army, in North Africa, and served with the unit throughout the war in Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany and Austria. During that time he rose from Private First Class [Pfc.] to company commander [lieutenant], was wounded three times, personally killed 240 Germans and was one of the only two soldiers left in the original company at the end of the war. His decorations total 24, from the Congressional Medal of Honor on down."
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The track of the same title from the 2014 album "Heroes" by Swedish heavy metal group Sabaton is about Audie Murphy. The video for the track also features footage from this film.
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Audie Murphy Medal of Honor citation, verbatim. Medal of Honor Orders

General Orders No. 65

WAR DEPARTMENT

Washington 25, D.C., 9 August 1945

MEDAL OF HONOR - Award

Section 1
  • * * * *
I. MEDAL OF HONOR. - By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved 9 July 1918 (WD Bul. 43, 1918), a Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty was awarded by the War Department in the name of Congress to the following-named officer:

Second Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, 01692509, 15th Infantry, Army of the United States, on 26 January 1945, near Holtzwihr, France, commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him to his right one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. It's crew withdrew to the woods. Lieutenant Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer which was in danger of blowing up any instant and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to the German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. the enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminated Lieutenant Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he personally killed or wounded about 50. Lieutenant Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective.
  • * * * *
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:

OFFICIAL: EDWARD F. WITSELL Major General Acting the Adjutant General

G.C. MARSHALL Chief of Staff
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Audie Murphy (I)'s best friend during World War II, called "Brandon" in the book and film, was actually named Lattie Tipton. He was killed in action in Southern France exactly as depicted in the film, and Murphy reportedly had a difficult time playing the scene.
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Audie Murphy's feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York, was the subject of its own Hollywood biopic, Sergeant York (1941).
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In the movie, Audie Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank; in real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
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Years later, Audie Murphy was asked if he realized just how much danger he was in during the thrilling sequence in the film, where he holds off two German rifle companys and five Panzer tanks while firing a .50 caliber machine gun on top of a burning tank destroyer. He replied, "I did, when I glanced down at the map I was using to call in the artillery fire, and noticed it was riddled with holes from the bullets flying all around me." Murphy was then asked, why he did such a crazy thing. He repiled, "They were killing my friends."
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Among Audie Murphy's 27 American decorations was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the US military's highest award for conduct "above and beyond the call of duty". He was also, awarded five decorations by France and Belgium.
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When firing his Thompson submachine gun in the film, Audie Murphy (I) holds the sling just under the forward hand guard's stacking swivel, most probably the way he had held a Thompson during actual combat to control the rise of the barrel as it fired.
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This film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 5 critic reviews.
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This is the only movie starring a major Hollywood actor portraying himself in the movie biography of his own life. By contrast, The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), starring Jackie Robinson (I), was the only movie Robinson ever made.
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Immediately prior to the theatrical release of this movie, Audie Murphy (I) appeared as the Mystery Guest on the TV show "What's My Line?" (1950). He used his natural voice, but Bennett Cerf (I) guessed his identity based on his war exploits, not voice recognition.
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Audie Murphy received the Medal of Honor on the same day that the USA dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of 400 movies nominated for the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
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Average Shot Length (ASL) = 8 seconds
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Film debut of Susan Kohner.
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The movie was filmed in eastern Washington, near Yakima, where the dry climate and sparse vegetation bear a strong resemblance to the landscape of North Africa and Sicily.
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Audie Murphy was 21 years and 2 months old when he received the Medal of Honor, not 19 years old as stated in the movie
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Final film of Tao Porchon.
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