Kehr’s Weekly Recap: The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

The making and unmaking of this 1951 film were described in painful detail in Lillian Ross‘s book Picture, which was for years the definitive document on Hollywood philistinism. Certainly writer-director John Huston‘s original version would be preferable to the mangled remains (it was cut to 70 minutes during a power struggle between Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary), though the sequences that survive suggest that Huston’s vision was not particularly compelling to begin with. It’s the earliest example of Huston’s propensity for sacrificing the humanity of his characters to artsy camera angles and distended compositions—what he gains in graphic power he loses in emotional force. With Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Royal Dano, and Andy Devine.

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