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CineMaven

Red Badge of Courage

11 posts in this topic

Audie Murphy...the most decorated soldier of the Second World War. Is it fair for him to play a soldier in the movies when he really was one?? Do you think it's a stretch in acting or just art imitating life?

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I don't know, but I've always wondered why when you go to Burger King, you never see a picture of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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> {quote:title=CineMaven wrote:}{quote}

> I dunno man. I always liked Ike...with fries on the side.

 

You should try the Big MacArthur.

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I have already...between two Pattons. Delicioso if I must say so myself and since this is my thread, I will say so myself. I can't be anyone else. Or can I?

 

Now, about Richard Thomas' version...

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*Do you think it's a stretch in acting...*

 

Why not, he could fight. Not too much of a stretch. Frankie Avalon, on the other hand, couldn't fight, sing, or act, yet we were treated to his presence in several war movies.

 

My favorite between Audie and Richard Thomas? I haven't seen it in thirty years, but I thought John Boy was better. And shhhhhhhhh...I thought he was also a tad better than Lew Ayres in *All Quiet on the Western Front* . By his nature, Thomas seemed the unlikely hero, and came across as more real in both.

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> {quote:title=CineMaven wrote:}{quote}

> Audie Murphy...the most decorated soldier of the Second World War. Is it fair for him to play a soldier in the movies when he really was one?? Do you think it's a stretch in acting or just art imitating life?

 

John Huston's whole reasoning in casting Murphy is the extraordinary contrast of having the U.S. most decorated soldier playing a young fictional soldier who must wrestle with his own instinct to turn coward in the face of battle.

 

One of the film's most wonderful aspects is the way Huston and his cinematographer, Hal Rosson, make the film look almost documentary-like. Motion pictures wouldn't be invented until almost thirty years after the end of the Civil War, but if they had existed in the period 1861-65, and, someone like Matthew Brady had been on the battlefields shooting newsreels, one imagines that the footage would look a lot like Huston and Rosson's film.

 

Too bad that the studio had so little faith in the movie -- due, in no small part to their belief that the public wouldn't accept Audie Murphy playing a coward -- that it cut the film down to a mere 68 minutes. It would be wonderful if Warner Bros. would scour their vaults to try to find the excised footage so that Huston's lost minor masterpiece might be restored to his original intentions.

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Fair to whom? Leave Audie alone!

 

Seriously, Huston was drawing on his own WWII experience in making a "modern" version of RED BADGE, and casting Audie and Bill Mauldin was not only a marketing coup but an effort to lend authenticity to a movie that likely would be seen by thousands of WWII combat vets. That a bonafide hero was playing a coward leant a greater degree of realism as well as humanity to the character of Henry. Audie was no great shakes as an actor, and he was wise enough to know that, but his performance in RED BADGE is pretty good, given the limitations of the script.

 

If you really like this film, do read Lillian Ross's excellent (and short) book, PICTURE. Interestingly, the producer of the film, Gottfried Reinhardt, comes across as the real hero of the production in Ross's account.

 

Oh, yeah -- keep in mind that RED BADGE was made four years before Audie was persuaded to portray himself in TO HELL AND BACK. And in spite of his reputation as a military hero, Audie's bread-and-butter as an actor was the Western film, in which he played a variety of roles. Other than RED BADGE and TO HELL AND BACK, he made only one other film that could be described as a "war movie."

 

And -- the film was produced by MGM, not Warner Brothers. 'Twould be nice if the original footage still exists.

 

Edited by: EdisonMcIntyre on May 19, 2010 10:13 PM

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> {quote:title=EdisonMcIntyre wrote:}{quote} And -- the film was produced by MGM, not Warner Brothers. 'Twould be nice if the original footage still exists.

 

True, but MGM sold it's film library to Ted Turner in 1981 and some years later when he merged his company with Time-Warner, those films did indeed go under the control of Warner Bros. So if any of the deleted scenes still exist that's who would have them.

 

I think sometimes Murphy gets a bum rap. While I don't consider him a "great" actor, I think he was competent and certainly improved as his career moved along. His films, especially the westerns, were very popular with movie audiences and helped keep Universal from going under in the 1950's.

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The guy had talent. I don't think it was a stretch for him. The grand part of is that, assuming anyone had the talent, is that there must be a whole depth of emotions and experience can be brought to the role. I am sure there was potential for Murphy to look really foolish.

 

There may be some imitation but that only goes so far.

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