Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Red Badge of Courage

John Huston, 1951, bw (8.4*)
The master director once said this was his best film, but that was about 1951 and long before his illustrious career was done (he was yet to make The Man Who Would Be King as well), also perhaps before it was cut by the studio. There are some amazing Civil War battle sequences in this filming of the Stephen Crane classic novel, written when he was just 22, about a youth having a hard time adjusting to battle. A young looking Audie Murphy was a good choice, he was a decorated WW2 hero.

This is really some of Huston’s best black and white work, almost expressionistic at times with so much dust and smoke from battle that you can barely see what’s happening; soldiers appear like ghosts from the dust in front. Unfortunately, there was a major dispute at MGM internally over the making of this film, and it was whittled down from Huston’s 120 minutes to just 69 (and released as 2nd film on a double-bill!) and the studio later claimed to have destroyed the expurged footage when Huston wanted the complete cut. This is what happens when capitalists have control of art…


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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