1950s movies marathon – part 108

Men in War (1957, USA, Mann)

A lost company and a shell-shocked colonel try to make their way from point A to point B in some desolate part of Korea. Watched it all. Possibly the first good Korea war movie. I’ve talked before about how few good war movies Hollywood made after 1946 or so. This sounds counterintuitive, because you’d expect that war movies would be better with hindsight. Nope. War movies from 1944-46 feel like they were made by veterans who had just returned home from the front. War movies from the post-war decade feel like they were made by the little brothers who stayed at home, and/or by military PR departments. This is one of the exceptions. No wonder, with Anthony Mann as director.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, UK, Lean)

You think you’ve seen a movie, and then it turns out that it’s a lot different from what you remember. For one thing, this one is about an hour longer than I recalled. Watched it all before, and again now. For some reason this movie makes me think of software development projects, but why on earth would that be? It also makes me think that Great Britain is, if not the biggest, then at least the greatest military power on earth, and that 1957 should in no way be remembered as the second year of a long decline that has lasted until the present. Because if that was the case, it would give this movie a melancholic subtext it probably wasn’t intended to have.

4 Responses to 1950s movies marathon – part 108

  1. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    Re: Korean War films: I’d argue that Pork Chop Hill, starring Gregory Peck, is pretty good. Likewise, The Steel Helmet, a B-grade film from 1951, is surprisingly watchable. The director, Samuel Fuller, was a WWII infantryman who saw heavy combat. The scene where one of the GIs executes a prisoner was highly controversial at the time, but Fuller defended it saying he’d seen it happen in WWII.

    • Interesting, thanks. Pork Chop Hill seems to be from 1959. I’m going through these movies chronologically, so I’ll get around to that one soon. Must have missed or skipped The Steel Helmet – I try to decide early in the movie if I want to watch the rest or not, so I usually end up watching the ones with impressive openings. 😉

      My favorite 40s WWII movies are A Walk in the Sun and The Story of G.I. Joe, and the documentary To the Shores of Iwo Jima, all made right at the end of the war. They have something that doesn’t show up very often in the decade that followed. Another big difference is that Korea doesn’t seem to make a big splash in Hollywood, the way WWII did. You hardly notice it’s there, and suddenly it’s over.

  2. Bruce Rheinstein says:

    All very good films.

    The director of The Story of GI Joe is William Wellman, who was awarded the Croix de Guerre with two palms as a fighter pilot with the Lafayette Flying Corps during WWI. If you decide to look at movies of the 1920s, his film Wings is excellent, and you can see why Clara Bow was touted as America’s Sweetheart.

  3. Pingback: The best movies of 1957 « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

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