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Sergeant York (1941)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 1



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Movie Info

When World War I hero Alvin York agreed to sell the movie rights to his life story to Warner Bros., it was on three conditions: (1) That the film contains no phony heroics, (2) that Mrs.York not be played by a Hollywood "glamour girl" and (3) That Gary Cooper portray York on screen. All three conditions were met, and the result is one of the finest and most inspirational biographies ever committed to celluloid. When the audience first meets young farmer Alvin York (Cooper), he's the cussin'est,

Nov 7, 2006

Warner Bros. Pictures

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (3) | DVD (4)

The performance of Gary Cooper in the title role holds the picture together magnificently, and even the most unfavorable touches are made palatable because of him.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The first half is quite good, documenting York's rural upbringing with great simplicity and charm. But the second part -- the war -- degenerates quickly and grotesquely.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moving, memorable, great Warner Bros. biography of WWI hero York, with fine Cooper performance--an Oscar winner.

February 22, 2008

Sergeant York brought him Hawks one and only Oscar nomination for Best Director, and it's arguably his least interesting film.

November 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (3)
Combustible Celluloid

This is one of those movies where the star appears to have been born to play the role.

November 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Setting a precedent by preseting the saga of a celeb sill alive, the Hawks biopic is a tale of transformation of an obscure Tennessee hillbilly into a national hero, thus showing the validity of the democratic credo that heroes are not born but made.

September 27, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Nothing to get upset about, but also not much to get excited about.

May 27, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The breathless pace, the good script, and the mostly fine performances made me more forgiving of the dated aspects of this film. Overall, though, it's Gary Cooper's film.

December 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

First-class Hawks biopic on the WWI hero.

November 25, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Sergeant York is a quadruple 'A' attraction, destined to go many places and leaving complete satisfaction in its wake.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Sergeant York

I liked Sergeant York but wasn't absolutely floored by it. The first half of the movie where York is a hell-raising yokel was entertaining, even if it did feel kind of forced. The second religious half was good even if there weren't enough of the WWI battles I'd expected and storywise it was more interesting, too. I'm not the world's biggest Gary Cooper fan but he was pretty good here. The hickishness of Sergeant York got kind of annoying after awhile but consider the source. Overall, it wasn't what I expected but it was still good.
May 31, 2011

Super Reviewer

I don't want to be a soldier. I don't want to go to war. I would seriously consider dodging the draft if there still was one. I identified with Gary Cooper's character. Yet, the movie's message is strongly supporting war and a soldier's work. Somehow I still enjoyed the film, and can appreciate it for the things it does well.
October 18, 2007

Super Reviewer

Gary Cooper is back as his old plodding self as an unlikely war hero who learns how to fire a gun all over again and eventually takes out a bunch of Germans. Nothing terribly imaginative.
March 13, 2014
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Once in a while it's good to look back at classic films that reflected the era in which they were made. At the outbreak of World War II, there was the usual rush to produce films that invoked patriotic feeling in young men, so that they would volunteer for the armed forces. Sergeant York is a lightweight version of such a film, but it's significant in that it really examines the meaning of why people take up causes, even if their own conscience is against them. The heroism was genuine, and it still resonates with people today, because the term is overused. Like the US as it entered the Second World War, it's a film that hearkened back to a more innocent type of patriotism. It's both a war film, and biopic. It was successful in both areas as a movie.

Directed in classic style by veteran actioneer Director Howard Hawkes, the movie take a long time to get to "the front". However, when it does, the connection that Hawkes and his star, Gary Cooper, has made in portraying York ensures that you care about this simple, yet honest soul. Cooper won an Academy Award, and although his performance is typical of his understated style, he's quite perfect for the role. On closer examination, he does go through quite an arc of behavior, and the scenes of his backwoods activities are both amusing and touching at the same time. There's a heartfelt innocence in the way York approaches anything - common sense is what it used to be called. Even his reason for his heroic actions are clearly explained: He did it to save lives, not take lives. He was fighting to help his friends, a sentiment that we hear over and over in modern epics like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and other 'modern' war films. Yet this was made in 1941 about the First World War. In that way, it was well ahead of its time, and is remembered when other drum-beating films made during the Second World War are forgotten or dismissed as mere propaganda.

The producers were fortunate to have the real Sergeant York to provide advice and consult on the film. Even he thought he'd been portrayed as 'too heroic', but he liked Cooper's work.

The dialogue is sparse but meaningful, and the narrative picks up speed rapidly after York decides to go to war. The trench warfare of the First World War is shown in some detail, although not in the brutal fashion that it would be done today. However, there's enough to give viewers and idea of how deadly it was, and that only makes York's actions seem even more extraordinary. He was a truly modern hero in a simpler age. We would do well to remember soldiers like Sergeant York, not just because he serves as a heroic portrait, but because he was human as well.
November 24, 2010
Mark K

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Sergent York (FR)
  • El sargento York (ES)
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