Battle Cry [DVD]
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A group of US Marines get fit, find love and go to war in WWII, Van Heflin plays their commander, trying to get his men the tough combat action they yearn for.
The most interesting--and entertaining--aspect of Battle Cry, a long, episodic World War II drama, is that it marked the debut of one Justus E McQueen, who subsequently took the name of the good ol' Arkansas boy he played in the movie: LQ Jones. He's only one of eight or nine marine recruits who divide the screen time with commanding officer Van Heflin and James Whitmore as a lifer sergeant named Mac, "just Mac", who ramrods their squad and also delivers the movie's overbearing narration. Unfortunately, the narration is necessary to maintain continuity as the CinemaScope production galumphs its way from rounding up the melting-pot cast to seeing them through basic training and sundry, mostly amatory misadventures in San Diego, to further training in New Zealand and finally to baptism of fire on Guadalcanal.
Trouble is, among the recruits only McQueen/Jones (whose job is mostly comic relief) and Aldo Ray (as a brawling lumberjack who's never known family life) have any charisma or acting chops--and that's not forgetting Tab Hunter, whose matinee-idol status at the time does not speak well for the 50s. Battle Cry is also a cardinal example of Hollywood's penchant for buying big, lusty, profane bestsellers (by Leon Uris, in this case) and then bowdlerising all the lustiness and profanity to appease the censors. Raoul Walsh, the poet laureate of lowdown gusto, does what he can in the circumstances, and as one of the first guys ever to direct a widescreen movie (1930's The Big Trail), he makes the battle scenes roar. --Richard T. Jameson
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Top Customer Reviews
a typical, long winded and drawn out blockbuster labelled Cinemascope production from the Hollywood of the time.
From this point of view (a movie history perspective),it could be argued as essential viewing.All the ingredients are there,you could even subtitle it Peyton Place joins the Marines.It's nothing like the book of course and it says something about the book's content and appeal to a contemporary readership when you realise you could still buy the paperback brand new in WH Smith as recently as the early 90's.
No...the real reason for buying this DVD of Battle Cry is the quality of the transfer.It is nothing short of Superb.Bright,clear,sharp and distinct,with vibrant colour.One of the best transfers of a Cinemascope picture I've seen.
It's makes you wonder why other Cinemascope releases on DVD are so dire.
You'll know what I mean if you've seen Cinemascope DVD's of
The King and I or Carousel for example.
So Battle Cry may not get anywhere near a HALLIWELL award of four stars, but at least watching it, is a candy eye experience, and at this price it's also a steal.
Still, for those of us old enough to have seen it on its original release, it's a good wallow in nostalgia. The DVD transfer is fine.
Battle Cry is something of a misleading title since this two and half hour movie barely sees any battle action at all: well until the expected big surge in the last quarter that is Battles of the heart would probably have been more appropriate since the film is concerned with affairs of the heart. The story follows a group of U.S. Marines during World War II, a collection of individuals who are all very different yet driving towards the same destiny that is laid out for them. From training to emotional strife, and from rocky beginnings to the ultimate battle, Battle Cry is big on characterisations. Walsh, for the first half, spins all the character arcs together, carefully focusing on the psychological aspects of soldiering, but it's just too talky; and in truth the second half drags at a snails pace until the flame throwers start to light up the sky. By then it's too late to save the film and our now numb derrières's.
Competently directed and acted, the film should be applauded for trying to tell a human interest story over boom boom explosive histrionics. But after being asked to accept a roll call of army stereotypes in the first place, the audience are then made to twiddle their thumbs waiting for something of interest to lurch from the screen. It never happens. Not even Whitmore throwing punches or Heflin doing grizzle can save this from being below average. 4/10
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Saw this film many years ago.....good to have it on shelf nowPublished 21 months ago by Mark Le Gallais