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The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage
Actors: Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Douglas Dick, Royal Dano, John Dierkes
Director: John Huston
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
NR     2003     1hr 9min

Psychological study of an untried young Union soldier who panics in his first encounter with the enemy but regains his courage and emerges a hero. Based on Stephen Crane's novel. Screenplay by John Huston.


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Movie Details

Actors: Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Douglas Dick, Royal Dano, John Dierkes
Director: John Huston
Creators: Albert Band, Harold Rosson, John Huston, Ben Lewis, Dore Schary, Gottfried Reinhardt, Stephen Crane
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Classics, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/04/2003
Original Release Date: 03/16/1951
Theatrical Release Date: 03/16/1951
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 9min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Fine film about war and courage and human nature
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 08/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Huston directed this film adaptation of the famous Steven Crane
novel. As soon as it was finished, he left to work on The African
Queen, leaving the editing in the hands of the studio. But it was
1951, the height of the McCarthy era. There was a movement in this
country against anti-war films. And so the film was cut to a mere 69
minutes, which put it into the category of a "B" movie to be
shown only as a second feature. That was a full fifty years ago, and
in spite of the supposed butchering job on the cutting room floor, the
film definitely has stood the test of time. Of course I will never
know what the original was supposed to be. And I haven't even read the
novel. But I sure am glad I saw this video. I understand that Steven
Crane wrote the book in 1894, which was a full thirty years after the
Civil War. He was 22 years old at the time and had never actually been
in a battle himself. He was trying to say something about war and
courage and human nature rather than about the specific war. And so
his work is unique among the vast body of writings about that awful
period of history that tore at the heart and soul of our
country. Audie Murphy stars as The Youth and, with the exception of
Andy Devine who has a small role lasting no more than a minute, the
rest of the cast are unknowns. They all portray Union soldiers and we
first see them bored and anxious to fight a battle. They brag about
their courage and how they all intend to stand firm in the heat of
battle. The Youth has his doubts and the tension mounts as the
inevitable battle tests them all. Frightened, The Youth flees. Later
though, he returns and proves his manhood. The story is as simple as
that. There is also a narrator in the story, reading excerpts from the
pen of Steven Crane. The language is beautiful and adds depth to the
simple conversations of the soldiers. The black and white photography
is grainy and much of it is shot in shadow, adding to the intimacy and
the authenticity of the film. There was a literary rhythm to it all
and it added intensity. The role called for excellent acting and Audie
Murphy was perfect. I understand that in real life he won national
fame as the most decorated GI in WW2, winning 45 medals. He led a
turbulent life, plagued by what is now known as post traumatic stress
syndrome. A compulsive gambler, he won and lost fortunes, was addicted
to prescription sleeping pills and was once acquitted of attempted
murder charges stemming from a fistfight. But all that came later. In
1951, he was perfect for the role of The Youth. Recommended
This movie is a Matthew Brady photo come to life
J. Martello | Little Silver, NJ USA | 10/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is a Matthew Brady photo come to life. While it is true that the leads, Audie Murphy and Bill Mauldin, were not professional actors, they were cast for their wonderful faces and the fact that they had actually been through a recent war. Considering what Murphy had been through, his innocence and boyishness is a joy to behold. And they are surrounded by pros such as Andy Devine, Bill Easton and Royal Dano - as well as the usual Huston cronies. It has many moving vignettes - the captured Rebs being questioned by their Yankee peers, Andy Devine, as the jolly soldier, leading Murphy back to his unit, the General falling to prayer before battle, Murphy confessing his cowardice to Mauldin, the General promising to have supper with the men, etc...

The narration was added later because the studio had no confidence in Murphy being able to convey the story. This was years before Hollywood understood how effective non-professionals could be if directed properly. The studio also hated the General's high-pitched voice and so dubbed in a different actor and, of course, the complete butchering of whole scenes which reduced the movie to about 55 minutes.

With all its faults, this is one of Huston's true beauties."
A Remarkable Film
Linda Linguvic | 11/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Red Badge is an example of a great film that the Hollywood studio system almost destroyed, and did chop to pieces. Huston's masterpiece was originally longer. Studio bosses opposed his casting and script; they rearranged scenes and, yet, could not ruin the overall quality that Audie Murphy and John Huston created. Two books tell the story of Audie's best movies: PICTURE by Lillian Ross, and A THINKER'S DAMN by William Russo. Each recounts in extraordinary detail how great movies are made--and then unmade. Read them to understand Audie's movies better."
Audie Murphy's best film
Steven Hellerstedt | 12/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

The Youth (Audie Murphy) finds his first taste of battle to be more than he'd bargained for.

Although it's over fifty-years-old, John Huston's adaptation of Stephen Crane's THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE holds up remarkably well. Crane's novel of youth, written when Crane was in his early twenties, is an exploration of the nature of courage as measured in the crucible of battle. Civil War battle, to be exact. The Youth - that's how he's listed in the credits - along with the Loud Soldier (Bill Mauldin,) the Tall Soldier (John Dierkes,) and the rest of his regiment are marching to the battlefield shortly after the movie opens.

The `red badge' in the title is a battle scar, proof to the world - and yourself - that you have sufficient courage to belong. Whether that type of physical courage is today so highly and universally esteemed is debatable. Certainly Mauldin and especially Murphy, two still-youth heroes of the Second World War, won't resonate with later audiences. Mauldin enlisted in the army in 1940, and while in the service created the cartoon characters Willie and Joe, two average GIs fighting in Europe. Willie and Joe appeared in Stars and Stripes and won for Mauldin the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. Murphy was the most decorated combat American combat soldier of the war. Mauldin and Murphy's real-life courage was unquestioned, and Huston's use of the two in lead roles in canny. It adds a unique layer of immediacy and realism to the story.

There's a loose-limbed, deep focus, tight close-up look to the film that puts us under the skin of our universal Everyman soldiers. Murphy always seemed somewhat stiff as an actor, but here Huston keeps the dialogue short and concentrates on the darting eyes and pursed lips of the unproven youth. It works surprisingly well. THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE is famous as a butchered film, one the studios took from the director and cut by some twenty minutes. In fact, the running time for this one is a little over an hour, more suitable for a Boston Blackie episode than a major feature release. Huston, the story goes, was outraged but diverted by preliminary work on his next project, The African Queen. This is probably all so, but whoever did the re-cut knew what they were doing. The finished product is a trim, muscular story that benefits from its brevity.