Battle Cry (1955)

Film Review

BATTLE CRY

Release Date: 2 February, 1955

Studio: MGM

Director: Raoul Walsh

Starring: Van Heflin, Tab Hunter, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore

Synopsis

During World War II, marine recruits from all over the country travel by train to training camp. The young men have varied backgrounds and life stories. A group of recruits unites as a battalion under the command of Colonel Heflin. The film follows the battalion from training through deployment in New Zealand and into combat on Japanese-occupied Pacific islands. The individual stories of several marines, including Hunter and Ray, are featured. Heflin is dedicated to training a first-rate group of fighting marines, but he is concerned also about the personal happiness of his men. Off the base, the men struggle with love, desire, and insecurity. Some marines, including Heflin, die in combat. Hunter and Ray, although both are wounded, ultimately return to their sweethearts and attain happiness. Whitmore, a sergeant in the company, narrates the story.

Discussion

Walsh’s experience as a director shows in his professional job with this film. All the separate story elements are united smoothly, and audience interest and involvement are maintained throughout. The acting is strong, especially Heflin and Ray. Even Hunter’s performance shows liveliness and sensitivity. The combat scenes are well presented. Although the narrative builds from training and deployment through the final lethal combat, the history of the company is secondary to the dramatic and emotional stories of individual marines.