Its 10:54 pm
I love to read,always have. I will read just about anything with words on a page. But books are very expensive to buy brand new. Back when Lori and I lived in Northville,I used to haunt my local Barnes and Noble to read magazines while drinking iced coffee at the in-store Starbucks.
We soon moved to my current town and I was pretty jazzed because we moved pretty close to a Borders Bookstore and just as I was getting used to having a store close to home,the company closed its doors. Finding quality books looked rather like a difficult task…that is until I discovered Dollar Tree. Now some of you know that I started doing these reviews based on the movies I found at Dollar Tree but before that,I was buying books,good hardcover books for a buck.
Because people in my area loved to read,they shop my Dollar Tree quite a bit and that ensures that our store gets a lot of books and that means quality reads. It was here that I found a autobiography written by actor Tab Hunter called “Confidential”. It has been on my “to read stack” for a few years and I finally read it recently. So why I telling you all this story? Well because Tab Hunter wrote about starring in “Battle Cry” when he was first starting out while under contract to Warner Brothers.
Tab wrote how Jack Warner was concerned with certain aspects of Leon Uris’s book of which the film was based on. One was the affair that his character,19 year old Danny Forrester,was having with the much older wife of a fellow Marine. Because Warner Brothers was getting much needed help from the Marine Corps,they were afraid that the Corps would frown on this,it was a groundless fear as in test screenings,the Marines approved of the story line.
The second major issue was what happens to Danny when his battalion is in action,Danny is killed in action. But when Jack Warner saw the film,he insisted that his new hot star in the making not be killed but only wounded,he didn’t want Tab’s fans to see their idol killed onscreen.
As I was reading this,I recalled seeing that Warner Brother Archive recently released “Battle Cry” on BluRay and with that in mind,secretly sent a carrier pigeon to our contact “MP” over in Italy and asked him if we could get a copy to look at and holy pigeon,if we didn’t get one dropped off!
“Battle Cry” is a look at a small group of recruits who join the USMC back in 1942. It follows the group as they go through basic training and learn to become radiomen,an important job and one with a high mortality rate. The stereotypes are all accounted for:
The babe in the woods- Danny Forrester (Tab Hunter)
The slippery con man – Spanish Joe (Perry Lopez)
The bookworrm – Marion “Sister Mary” Hotchkiss (John Lupton)
The tough guy – Andy Hookens (Aldo Ray)
The country bumpkin – L.Q. Jones (L.Q. Jones)
The jilted boyfriend – “Ski Wronski” (William Campbell)
Plus you have to had your crusty yet had a heart of gold officers
Lt. Col. Sam “High Pockets” Huxley – 2nd Battalion commander (Van Heflin)
Master T/Sgt Mac – (James Whitmore). Mac narrates throughout the movie.
“Battle Cry” is a character driven war movie. There is actually very little action in it except in the last 20 minutes. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but when your film is 2 and a half hours long,you do hope for more action.
As strictly a character driven film “Battle Cry” does a great job,Uris delivers fully developed characters among the three main stories being told,Danny’s maturity growth as he grows from a confused 19 year old to a self-assured man by the time he reaches home.
He gets some help from Huxley when it appears that Danny is going to throw away a promising future when he starts fooling around with the older Elaine (Dorothy Malone).
Huxley sends Danny home so he can see his girl and hopes it will help settle him into becoming a good Marine.
Andy is a brute when he is first introduced,only caring about himself. He likes to play the field and have plenty of dames around,he doesn’t believe in relationships as he is a “love ’em and leave ’em” type of man. That changes when he meets a war widow in New Zealand named Pat Rogers (Nancy Olson). A careless and thoughtless comment almost destroys their relationship before it starts and Andy realizes what a an asshole he really is. Pat and Andy start a relationship as Huxley meets Pat and encourages her to have faith in their future even though she is terrified of losing Andy in combat.
The third story is of Huxley himself,he has trained his battalion to be the best and he wants see combat before the war is over. While his men have done two mopping up missions and performed well,they are not being considered for a beach assault on Saipan. Huxley wants a chance to fight and he tangles with Maj. General Snipes about getting included in the first wave,Huxley gets his wish and then some.
The acting in “Battle Cry” is pretty strong,while watching this film today,you’ll cringe at some of the actions of the Marines but remember that is how it was back then. It may not be pretty but it’s truthful. Whitmore and Heflin carry this film on their shoulders and both are truly excellent,you can see how their performances really helped some of the younger actors like Hunter and elevated “Battle Cry” to a classic war movie. Directed by Hollywood legend Raoul Walsh whose list of credits is flat out amazing,”Battle Cry” is a movie that fans of older films must have in their own personal collections.
“Battle Cry” is unrated but should be considered PG-13 for adult themes. The run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes and the only extra feature its trailer.
You can buy a copy of “Battle Cry” by visiting the website of Warner Brothers Archive.
The cheetah and I both enjoyed “Battle Cry” for a its strong acting and the fact that wasn’t full of propaganda. We both give it thumbs/paws straight up.