Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'Men in War' Proves Sherman Was Right The Cast


Olive Films | 1957 | 102 min | Not rated | Apr 15, 2014 (6 Days) 

 
IT appears that the underlying purpose of Sidney Harmon's new film, "Men in War," is to show that the famous observation of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was justified. War, in this low-budget picture, which came to the Capitol yesterday, is brutal and agonizing. It is unequivocal hell.
From the very beginning, when the camera brings us in touch with a platoon of hard-pressed American infantrymen cut off from their battalion during the Korean war, it is one long display of horror and misery as the soldiers, under the command of a tired and tormented lieutenant, try to slog their way back to their lines.
Half of the bruised and bearded soldiers appear to be suffering from battle fatigue, which causes them, at embarrassing moments, to do weird and incautious things. These unaccountable fellows are constantly having to be dragged down to the ground. The other half appear to be so frightened that they have to fee prodded to move. The courage and ingenuity of the lieutenant are unrelentingly taxed.
And, to add to his troubles, there early comes into his group a sergeant of nasty disposition, tending a colonel who is out of his mind. The colonel just sits there and gazes into space, but the sergeant gripes and growls, questioning the lieutenant's decisions. Yes sir, brother, war is hell.
So, we might add, is the experience of sitting through this film, which runs for an hour and three-quarters and never gets out of that ugly terrain. It is not just the war, it is the monotony of seeing the same things happen over and over again—feet dragging through dust, faces sweating, guys jumping up and going mad. The screen play by Philip Yordan and the direction of Anthony Mann are made up largely of previous war-film indications of human behavior that mean little when repeated so many times.
It is a relief when the lieutenant and the nasty sergeant, survivors of the band, wipe out an enemy bunker and permit the picture to come to an end.
The lieutenant is played by Robert Ryan and the sergeant by Aldo Ray. Both are rugged, ruthless soldiers, by the rules of realism here laid down, and James Edwards as a careless Negro and Philip Pine as a scared noncom are among the dozen or so actors who stumble and sweat commendably.
It is hard to figure what audience, if any, should be recommended to this film. By now, there are not many people who are unacquainted with the facts of Hollywood war.