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During an evacuation in the waning days of the Korean War, three American soldiers retrieve an enemy airman and take him prisoner aboard the civilian ship returning them to their lines. When an order comes down from their superiors to kill the prisoner, the sergeant in charge, Briscoe, orders his men, Dennison and Hackett, to carry out the execution. But first one and then the other refuse to follow the order. A tense stand-off ensues between the seemingly heartless sergeant and his conscience-stricken men.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
[prologue] This is a story of men in war, not men at war. And the two are not the same. Hence, this film is dedicated not to any army, navy, air or other military force, but to those who are the lowest common denominator of all military forces...and the highest...the individual man. For in the brief and quiet intervals between the loud and terrible noises of war, he is capable of great and revealing moments of nobility. This story is about such a moment in the lives of three men and although it could have happened in any time or any war, we have chosen Korea...1953... See more »
Not always well paced, but an excellent look at human nature.
The intro to this film indicates that this story is universal and could apply to any war...or any country...and this is quite true. And, this universality of the story make this an exceptional war film.
When the story begins, some American soldiers are loading trucks with airplane fuel which will soon be transported to the front. However, during this process, a North Korean plane attacks...killing one of the men. The plane soon crashes and a lone man bails out of the craft. Now when the surviving three American soldiers enter the ship, they have a prisoner.
Once aboard the ship, the men contact headquarters and are told that they were NOT to bring the prisoner in with them. In other words, they were to kill him! This is clearly a war crime...and is against the articles of war. The sergeant (Kirk Douglas) clearly seems to LIKE this order...one of the men, one of the privates (Robert Walker Jr.) thinks the order is monstrous and refuses to do it. The sergeant takes delight in goading this private but despite this, he will NOT kill the man. So, the sadistic sergeant then tries to get the other private to do it...
The story is a great look at human nature...the good as well as the bad. And, it reminds us that the German soldiers of WWII were not the only ones who murdered and chalked it all up to 'just following orders'. A very strong film whose only shortcoming is its pacing (it could have been shortened a bit and that would have made a stronger picture).
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