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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Naked And The Dead (1958)

It's 1943 WWII on an island in the South Pacific where a division of American marines under the command of a martinet of a General (Raymond Massey) is attempting to drive off the Japanese from the island. The General clashes with a Lieutenant (Cliff Robertson) on how the enlisted men are treated and the platoon's sadistic Sergeant (Aldo Ray) shows signs of being psychotic. Based on the best selling novel by Norman Mailer (his first novel) and directed by the Hollywood veteran Raoul Walsh, the first part of the film focuses on the conflict between the officers and enlisted men and the second part of the film becomes more of a typical WWII film as a small platoon attempts to reach a Japanese held mountain top. Walsh doesn't flinch from the brutalities of war, Ray's character collects gold teeth from dead Japanese and withholds information from his own troop to fulfill his agenda despite the danger to his men while the cruel Massey treats enlisted men like vermin with only the humanistic Robertson to offer some semblance of sanity. The portrayal of women comes off poorly with Barbara Nichols as Ray's adulterous trampy wife and Lili St. Cyr, perhaps the most famous stripper in the fifties, playing, what else, a stripper. Bernard Herrmann did the brassy and brooding score. With Richard Jaeckel, Joey Bishop, William Campbell, James Best, Jerry Paris and Robert Gist.

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