The Red Badge of Courage Reviews

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flixsterman
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2009
In spite of the studio's blasphemous 'recut' of John Huston's work, The Red Badge of Courage successfully illuminates the fragile psyche of the foot soldier in harm's way. Audie Murphy, given his own combat experience, seems perfectly cast as the civil war private battling fear and self-doubt while serving in a union regiment. Like the source material from which it sprang, this film is a study in humanity and man's astonishing ability to persevere.
Super Reviewer
November 4, 2007
For 1951 it was a pretty great movie. It had a great behind it, and got it acrossed well. I felt it ended a little suddenly, and to me it seemed like there seemed to be something missing, though im not sure what, but overall, it was a film , for any civil war buff, too see.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2006
Heavily scissored by the studio, it's distressing to think how good Huston's Civil War flick could have been. It has some truly gorgeous visuals, in particular the close-ups of the young soldiers facing their first taste of warfare and the shot of the sunlight breaking through in shafts through the trees. The decision to keep the novel's anonymous characters (the film is adapted from a Stephen Crane novel), pays off, adding to the sense of alienation in combat (they are referred to in adjective titles, ie: 'The Tattered Man', 'The Tall Soldier'). Murphy also convinces as a young lad staring death in the face, and his eventual defiance in not letting the flags touch the ground makes for some striking cinematography, irregardless of your stance on war. Sadly, this would-be great was truncated down to just over an hour's worth of footage, making it a frustrating experience. In doing so, the audience feels a little short-changed by Murphy getting over his demons in about fifty minutes, the same effect as watching the regular cut of Apocalypse Now after one has grown accustomed to the full nightmare of Redux. What could have been....
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"The Red Badge of Courage" takes place during the American Civil War in 1862. A regiment of Union soldiers has been busy not engaging in combat with the enemy but in constant drilling. Then one day, news reaches them of orders to go into combat. As the soldiers converse amongst themselves, a young soldier, Henry(Audie Murphy), worries about the upcoming battle...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Red Badge of Courage" is an excellent examination of bravery and cowardice under fire, filmed in a very naturalistic style.(It is based on the 1895 novel by Stephen Crane which I read over ten years ago but cannot recall any details from.) The emphasis here is on the soldiers of both sides without any thought given to ideology. This is especially surprising considering the film was made in 1951 during the Korean War and the height of the Red Scare. [/font]
Super Reviewer
November 26, 2006
Completely devoid of emotional impact and messily structured, but Huston's direction is solid and the cinematography is marvelous. The film's flaws are more a result of the studio's lack of vision than Huston's, but they're there nonetheless.
July 14, 2007
One of the most famous examples of a studio altering a director's vision in post-production. Huston's cut ran approx. 2 hrs. before being slashed down to the 69 min. version that was released, and still the director proclaimed this the best film he ever made. I don't concur, but it is difficult to argue against this being a pretty special film. Even in its compact form, the movie feels amazingly complete, with splendid-looking battle scenes and its extraordinary look at the existential concerns that individual soldiers encounter in the realm of savage warfare. No soldier wants to feel that he is the least brave member of his company, especially when everyone around him seems so intrepid and at the ready to charge into battle. This is a story about finding redemption, and how receiving that assurance then leads to the gaining of courage to face mortal uncertainties without crippling distress. I'm a fan of Crane's novel, and Huston was smart to use the book's text verbatim to unearth these observations. We'll never know how good the lost director's cut was, but what we are left with is far from the disaster that could have resulted from such studio tampering.
April 26, 2014
Turner Classic Movies was playing a military marathon and caught this one. It almost seemed almost real, but I think it was missing screams of agony. I enjoyed this small tale without having to flinch or fast forward. I think the book was better, and worth a re-read.
November 5, 2013
He wished that he too had a wound...a red badge of courage.

A soldier on his way to participate in the Civil War during its opening battle has some hesitancy to shooting at men and being shot at. Some would call him a coward, and initially he is, but after seeing his fellow soldiers shot, wounded, and the world gone crazy, the soldier himself goes a little insane and will retaliate against his attackers. The soldier may have more in him than he anticipates.

"There ain't no holes in me but the ones that were intended."

John Huston, director of The Maltese Falcon, African Queen, Annie, Prizzi's Honor, A Farewell to Arms, Moulin Rouge, The Asphalt Jungle, and The Treasure of Sierra Madre, delivers Red Badge of Courage. The storyline for this picture is magnificent and contains brilliant character development. The acting is first rate and the cast includes Audrey Murphy, Douglas Dick, Royal Dano, Andy Devine, and Robert Easton.

"If everyone was standing and fighting, I'd stand and fight."

I DVR'd this picture last May because it was directed by the great John Huston, one of my all time favorite directors. The storyline for this picture is first rate and a unique take on the Civil War. I loved the characters and side characters throughout the picture. Even the narrative was extremely well done. I strongly recommend seeing this gem.

"I wish I had my dog along. First time I went hunting without my dog."

Grade: A
April 27, 2013
Bad acting, bad special effects, boring storyline. 'Nuff said.
½ March 13, 2013
Outstanding Civil War drama. The story was excellent and the acting was superb. The look of the movie was outstanding as well. I really recommend for fans of the classics.
February 10, 2012
Great old movie. The angst of combat without the realism of more modern was movies ala Saving Private Ryan.
½ November 19, 2011
John Huston had high hopes for this picture, thinking it could be his ultimate masterpiece. It had all of the potential to be one-a director at the top of his game, source material perfect for his style and an actor who literally lived through the lead role. The only thing he didn`t count on were the studio butchers. What`s surprising is how close he got to his goal inspite of their interference. Working from his own script (co-written with Albert Band), based on the Stephen Craine novel of the same name, he made a tight film about a thin line between courage and shame, and the ultimate irrelevance of this division in such hellish circumstances.

The story takes place in Civil War where a division of Union forces spend their time practicing and waiting for the battle. They all seem to be anxious to get to the battle except one young man. He doesn`t delude him self and is brave enough to realize that there is nothing to be excited about. When the time to fight finally comes, they will all see how close encounter to the possibility of death can change ones behavior in a radical way.

As you may sense, this is basically a plotless film. Huston`s take on this is much more character based. Even the battle is something that happens in the background and we don?t experience it as it actually evolves but through the eyes of people who participate in it. That approach makes it possible for us to really feel their state of mind rather than watch the mechanics of battle which are practically always the same.

Huston`s direction here is superb. He strips this material down to its core, finding effectiveness in simplicity. The general idea is always in front of our eyes and his noirish camera angles and beautifully conducted tracking shots never miss the point.

And now about those studio fascists.. The first thing they did was to shorten this to 70 minutes. That didn`t have an effect on the film quality as the story seemed coherent and the point shown clearly after it ended. But the narration they threw in certainly diminished the power by few degrees. Take the wonderful sequence of the first battle as an example. When the soldiers get to the battlefield and wait to be attacked they are all scared, though some choose to show it openly and others don`t. We can see the horror in their eyes as the enemy gets closer and closer. And than, relief. The other side changed their minds and apparently decided to give up. That lasts only few minutes because they come striking again. Huston showed this with such intensity that there was no need whatsoever for the narrator to tell us how the soldiers feel. This was just one example, there are few others in the course of it. Apparently nobody told the men in high offices that there is a big difference between literature and film, in the way we experience these two forms of art.

From what I could gather, not many people went to see this picture when it was first released. My guess would be that among those few admirers was one young director who, only six years latter, went on to make Paths of Glory, the best film about war ever made.
½ July 19, 2009
It's to bad that the studio absolutely destroyed this film, because it is obvious that there is a great film hidden under this butchered good one.
October 12, 2007
"The Red Badge of Courage" is John Huston's film based on Stephen Crane's novel. It follows the story of Henry Fleming, a soldier in the Union army during the American Civil War. The film features impressive scenes and sweeping shots along with an excellent score that is somber or tense as needed.

This film's characterizations are its main strength. The film carefully and convincingly portrays the fear, courage and camaraderie of men at war. Audie Murphy is perfect as Henry Fleming, a soldier who tries to show a brave face before his first battle, but privately harbors doubts about his courage. Henry's fellow soldiers are all well-developed, distinct and interesting characters as well. Andy Devine's cameo as a genial soldier was memorable and he had a number of clever lines. Tim Durant also memorably played the energetic general overseeing the soldiers.

The film is short at 69 minutes and has enough story content to keep it interesting. The battle scenes in the film are well-shot, although not among the best in Civil War films. However, the final battle scene makes a strong impression. "The Red Badge of Courage" is a short but notable Civil War film that depicts the trials soldiers face in war.
October 20, 2006
Here's another film rating.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"The Red Badge of Courage" takes place during the American Civil War in 1862. A regiment of Union soldiers has been busy not engaging in combat with the enemy but in constant drilling. Then one day, news reaches them of orders to go into combat. As the soldiers converse amongst themselves, a young soldier, Henry(Audie Murphy), worries about the upcoming battle...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Red Badge of Courage" is an excellent examination of bravery and cowardice under fire, filmed in a very naturalistic style.(It is based on the 1895 novel by Stephen Crane which I read over ten years ago but cannot recall any details from.) The emphasis here is on the soldiers of both sides without any thought given to ideology. This is especially surprising considering the film was made in 1951 during the Korean War and the height of the Red Scare. [/font]
½ November 13, 2005
Surprisingly, one of director John Huston's favorite films he has made. It does have a nice simplistic style to it. I also found it a bit slow moving at times. Quite faithful to the novel, well written. Since I was not a huge fan of the book, it's not surprising I am not a huge fan of the film. I find most everything about the Civil War less than exciting. I still have to admire the quality and style of the film however.
½ February 1, 2005
Not bad. Short and to the point. Acting is adequate. Good combat scenes. If you're into The Civil War - this one is not to be missed.
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