The Red Badge of Courage - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Red Badge of Courage Reviews

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September 29, 2016
Feels like a great film that got destroyed in the editing room, which is really what happened. MGM cuts Huston's film in half, added a bad narration to explain all the stuff you miss, and gave everyone a 72 minute good-but-not-great war film. Murphy's performance is surprisingly superb and Huston's documentary style really brings you back to that time. It will most likely always remain a great film that never was, but what we still have is still somewhat remarkable.
April 27, 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
½ October 12, 2013
I thought that the film presented the feelings of a soldier on the front lines from fear, terror, and just attacking without thinking.

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.
April 27, 2013
Bad acting, bad special effects, boring storyline. 'Nuff said.
½ March 29, 2013
Exceptionally shot. Goes by in a heartbeat, thanks to MGM's shameful trimming; thus, there's a flash-in-the-pan poignancy about it that underlines the plight of youths at war.
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.
March 12, 2013
Real life World War 2 hero Audey Murphy's first movie. Based on the book a lot of us were forced to read in school. Interesting cinematography considering the time it was made. It really created an interest for the characters.
½ March 4, 2013
What's truly amazing is how good the film is despite MGM slicing it up in the re-editing process.
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.
November 2, 2011
It's been a while since I've read the book but my lasting impression was a lot better than the film. The battle scenes hold up pretty well by today's standards just not as much gore.
½ August 21, 2011
Silvottu mestariteos. Loistava esimerkki siitä miten tuotantoyhtiö onnistuu pilaamaan ohjaajan näkemyksen.
½ July 9, 2011
A delectable script is slightly undermined by stiff narration; a flavorful cast of supporting players outshines the central performance. Yet what a gorgeous film to behold: the sylvan landscape, the smoke of the battlefield, those FLAGS. And more so than the protagonist's maturation, the crux of the movie for me is the brief and simple human dialogue between enemies at the end.
½ April 3, 2011
John Huston: Kunnian kentällä (1951). Stephen Cranen klassikkoromaaniin perustuva sisällissota-filmatisointi nuoresta sotilaasta, joka joutuu konfederaatin armeijan lisäksi taistelemaan myös omaa pelkoaan vastaan. Elokuva tuntuu hyvistä elementeistään huolimatta jäävän vähän puolitiehen, mistä elokuvahistorioitsijat syyttänevät ilmeisesti studiota.
½ December 12, 2010
Here's an idea: more movies that are 70 minutes long! This is an exceptional movie for any length, so why take two hours of my life?
½ September 26, 2010
Well, the book is better -- I was wondering how Huston would deal with the introspective nature of the book, and the decision to do a voice over, not sure about it. The movie certainly does not romanticize war, the Civil War, so worth watching for that.
August 8, 2010
With so many stories of films getting hacked and lost forever, with the director always the tragic hero, has someone ever compiled a "Top 10 Films Improved by Studio Editing"?
Super Reviewer
September 14, 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.
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