The Red Badge of Courage Reviews
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."
I liked some of the ceneophotography scenes. In particular I liked the angles sometimes where one half of the screen would see soldier up close and the other side shows a soldier in the distance. I also liked the shots looking up at the tree and you see the light rays and smoke from the battle come out of the tree.
It was surprising how much this film followed to the book for something made in the 1950s.
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.