(Average=3.81 out of 5; Total Number=16)
Still One Of The Best World War II Films (rating=5)
I too have seen A walk In The Sun countless times since I first saw it on television when I was a kid in the mid 1950's. I still believe that it is one of the best war films ever made. Yes, I also have seen Saving Private Ryan many times and love it as well.
In many ways, these films have a lot in common. They both exemplify the tenseness and horror of war. While SPR is more graphic, A Walk In The Sun succeeds with superb camera work and more subtlety.
The acting in A Walk In The Sun is excellent and I practically memorized all of the humorous dialogue between Pvts Rivera (Richard Conte) and Freedman (George Tyne). These two were a quintesential element of the film.
This film was excellently directed by Lewis Milestone and should not be missed.
A Walk In The Sun: War As Microcosm (rating=4)
A WALK IN THE SUN is a faithful screen adaptation from the novel by Harry Brown. Director Lewis Milestone relates the events of one day in the journey of a platoon in Italy as they take their 'walk in the sun.' Unlike most movies of the World War II era in which the focus is on the 'big picture', here Milestone limits his camera to record the microcosm of war. For a film about men in war, the actual amount of fighting is surprisingly negligible. In fact, the movie contains only two scenes of combat and each lasts only a few moments. What emerges is a movie that pictures combat with an enemy that is rarely seen and then only in shadows. As the film begins, a landing craft heads toward the beach at Salerno. It is the darkness just before dawn. The soldiers in the craft are warned to be quiet. Still, despite their caution, their lieutenant is killed by shrapnel, leaving Sergeant Porter (Herbert Rudley) in charge. As the men hit the beach, they begin to take casualties. Death seems only to come unexpectedly, quickly, and from far away. The death of Private McWilliams (Sterling Holloway) points out one of the film's subtexts: that the confusion of war makes it impossible for soldiers to make sense out of a war that is so vast that all they can hope to understand is only their microscopic view of it. McWilliams is symbolically killed as he tries to use binoculars to peek over a ridge to see the action on the other side. The Gods of Mars are determined to punish those hubristic soldiers who dare to aspire to a godlike understanding of the chaos of war. Sergeant Porter suffers mental collapse, leaving Sergeant Tyne (Dana Andrews) now in command. His orders are to march to a small farmhouse and secure it. Such an order is simplistic only on its seeming innocuousness. The company begin their trek toward the farmhouse, and as they walk, we can see individuals emerge from the collective company identity. There is the usual ethnic breakdown of men in combat. Private Rivera (Richard Conte) plays the Jersey City wisecracking machine gunner always bumming butts from mates. John Ireland is Windy the philosopher soldier who sees Porter sobbing helplessly and comments, 'Sometimes a wound does not always bleed.' Huntz Hall as Private Carraway is the slightly older version of the Brooklyn East Side Kid from his earlier days as Satch. Lloyd Bridges as Sergeant Ward dreams of apples as he tries to reconnect to a civilian life that he fears he may never see again. And leading them all is Tyne, whose management philosophy is shaped by the observation of one of his mates: 'Everything in the army is simple: you live or you die.' As they walk, they can hear the war far more than they can see it. German planes strafe them, shells land amidst them, armored cars appear out of nowhere, and all the while the only warning they have is a brief buzz of noise. Every few minutes, an offscreen balladeer sings a song, which the audience can hear but the soldiers cannot. The song takes its cue from the title as it reminds the viewer that the purpose of the trek is to take a 'walk in the warm Italian sun.' The first combat scene reinforces the concept that the enemy is nameless and faceless, though nonetheless deadly for their distance. A German armored car approaches and the Americans ambush it with grenades and machine gun bullets, causing it to crash and burn. The audience never sees the faces of any of the Germans. The only German anatomy that is seen is a hand that appears out of a burning vent. This hand,in the light of the remainder of the film, can be seen as symbolic of the Americans' view that war is far distant and totally impersonal. As the Americans approach their objective of the farmhouse, they plot to take it as they earlier had destroyed the armored car. The Americans attack, and the only view that the audience has of the defenders is that of hands manning machine guns pointing at the attacking Americans. The attack is successful, but the cost is high. Despite Rivera's oft repeated refrain that 'Nobody dies,' many do, and as the Americans wait for reinforcements, they have time to reconnect with each other. The irony of Rivera's comment when juxtaposed with Tyne's belief in the simplistic choice of war as leading only to life or death makes A WALK IN THE SUN one of the most powerful war movies ever filmed that try to justify to men why they may have to die and how to keep their sanity even if Private Rivera is right.
Not A Restored Version (rating=2)
It is apparent that the copyright has expired on this movie, as a number of DVD houses are offering various versions. This transfer is moderately scratchy and occasionally fuzzy, and obviously slightly cropped.
It is too bad the studio hasn't seen fit to issue a restored version (and copyright the restoration). Unfortunately, judging by the offerings here on Amazon, there is no studio version available.
Alongside larger-scaled epics, this 1945 drama looks modest, but director Lewis Milestone achieves a gritty realism that is ultimately closer to the truth of combat. A World War I veteran, Milestone had already created a classic war film--and powerful antiwar statement--in 1930'sAll Quiet on the Western Front, focusing on German troops in the trenches during "the Great War." For obvious reasons,A Walk in the Sun views the action from the perspective of American troops, but Milestone and a strong cast headed by Dana Andrews and Richard Conte prove remarkably clear-eyed in this chronicle of a platoon moving through the Italian countryside following the successful, but bloody, invasion of Italy. There's little of the cheerleading fervor or reflexive demonizing of the enemy visible in other films from the period; instead, the men's treacherous odyssey captures the sense of random chaos as their bucolic trek is interrupted by sudden skirmishes. We're shown the deep bonds forged between the soldiers, the loss of innocence that is the inevitable price of combat experience, and the capricious fates that can spare one soldier while exterminating another. Milestone would extend his mastery of wartime fiction to include the Korean War, captured in the equally fine, equally soberingPork Chop Hill.--Sam Sutherland