1945 / 108:00 / B/W / Biography/ Drama/ War
Director: William A. Wellman
Starring: Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, Freddie Steele, Wally Cassell
Formats: Available in High Definition restored version.
The Story of G.I. Joe was based on the columns of Scripps-Howard war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Though already past 40, Pyle insists upon marching along with an Army infantry unit during the Italian campaign. He befriends several of the soldiers, including commanding officer Robert Mitchum (his breakthrough role), family man Freddie Steele and would-be romeo Wally Cassell. The plot of the film is moved forward by the progression of the war itself basically, however, G.I. Joe is an anecdotal collection of comic, dramatic and tragic vignettes. Some of the more memorable moments include Freddie Steele's ongoing efforts to listen to a recording of his infant son's voice Mitchum's casual reactions to his many field promotions and a wedding ceremony which is "punctuated" by an air raid. Many infantry veterans consider The Story of GI Joe to be the single most realistic Hollywood war film of the 1940s, eschewing big stars, phony heroics and overblown battle sequences in favor of the everyday trials and tribulations of the humble foot soldier. Ironically, Ernie Pyle, who acted as technical adviser (when he wasn't busy on the front), was killed by an enemy sniper shortly before the release of this film. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
It has the same tough mood Sam Fuller utilized in The Big Red One, where the horrors of the killing fields were openly shown. Wellman took the grunt's point of view, showing how the war was mostly a meaningless exercise of trying to survive and not a matter of heroics or flag-waving as often presented in Hollywood films. Pyle tags along with the infantry unit showing the citizen soldiers' baptism under fire, their loneliness and fears, and the chaos of war. By sending back touching dispatches, the citizens back home can read about their loved ones and defenders of their country to get an idea of what the soldier was thinking and how the war was really going. This competently made, slow paced, convincing war drama managed to convey the GI humor and portray them in a sympathetic light. It avoided banality by striking a poignant note in regards to the tragedy of war also it captured in a natural way the soldiers' lingo and concerns. One of the better war films.
Award Categorie Person Year Status
OSCAR Best Actor Robert Mitchum nominated
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