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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Battle Cry (1955)

In January 1942 following the December 7th bombing of Pearl Harbor, a disparate group of young men board a train headed for San Diego and basic training Marine boot camp. Based on the best selling novel by Leon Uris (EXODUS), who adapted his book for the screen and directed by the veteran Raoul Walsh. For a 2 1/2 hour film titled BATTLE CRY, there's no actual battle until the movie's last 20 minutes. The focus on the film is on the personal relationships between these young Marines with each other and the women in their lives. Made 10 years after the end of WWII, while the film is different than the wartime propaganda films made during the war, it still comes across as a jingoistic recruiting poster for the U.S. Marines. There are the usual stereotypes: the relentless military martinet (Van Heflin), the kindly older sergeant (James Whitmore), the green all American boy (Tab Hunter), the tough macho ladies man (Aldo Ray) etc., they're all here. As with films of this type, the women's roles aren't very interesting but two stand out: Dorothy Malone as an adulterous wife and Anne Francis as a Marine groupie. Progressive for 1955, the movie actually acknowledges the contribution of Native Americans (specifically the Navajo) in WWII. But I rather liked the film as a whole. Max Steiner's mediocre score was inexplicably nominated for an Oscar. The large cast includes: Raymond Massey, Mona Freeman, Nancy Olson, William Campbell, John Lupton, Perry Lopez, Fess Parker, Allyn Ann McLerie and Rhys Williams. 

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