Not so very different in mood from The Big Red One, Wellman's film about the WWII Italian campaign not surprisingly won Sam Fuller's nod of approval for 'its feeling of death and mass murder'. Based on the front-line dispatches of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, this is not a film about flag-waving or heroism. Shot almost documentary style, with deliberately sketchy characterisation of individual soldiers (though Mitchum makes a powerful impression), it presents what is very much an infantryman's view of war as a meaningless vista of mud, muddle and fatigue, ending very probably in a wooden cross. Its masterstroke is to use Pyle himself (beautifully played by Meredith) as the omnipresent eyes and ears of the film, stuggling to fathom the mystery of the ordinary soldier ('This was their baptism of fire; it was chaos... each boy facing the worst moment of his life, alone') and to find the words to explain it to the folks back home. His homely dispatches may fringe sentimentality at times, but Wellman's images magnificently capture their compassion for the GI 'who lives so miserably, dies so miserably'.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Leopold Atlas, Guy Endore, Philip Stevenson|