Battle Cry (1955)

140 or 147-149 mins | Adventure, Melodrama | 12 March 1955

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writer:

Leon M. Uris

Producer:

Raoul Walsh

Cinematographer:

Sid Hickox

Editor:

William Ziegler

Production Designer:

John Beckman

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Voice-over narration by James Whitmore as “Sgt. Mac” is heard throughout the film. A dedication at the end of the film reads: “Our grateful appreciation to the United States Marine Corps without whose assistance this picture could not have been possible.” A Jan 1954 Var news item reported that the Marines, fearing negative propaganda, had been hesitant to back an earlier production featuring the Corps, the 1954 United Artists film Beachhead (See Entry). There was therefore some question as to whether they would be interested in supporting Battle Cry , as Leon M. Uris’s novel was, according to an Oct 1953 LADN article, considered by some people to be an indictment of the Corps. However, Marine authorities were pleased with the positive public reaction generated by Beachhead and assured director Raoul Walsh their full cooperation.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add Meg Myles, Capt. Fred Lawton, Sgt. Edgar J. Howard and Mario De Re, the younger brother of Aldo Ray, to the cast. Although a Jan 1954 HR news item reports that Martha Hyer was cast, she did not appear in the final film. Portions of the film were shot on location in California at Fort Pendleton and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, both near San Diego, the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, and an area in the Simi Valley, according to HR news items. A Feb 1955 AmCin and several HR news items reported that battle scenes were shot on location near Vieques Islands, Puerto Rico, where the night training maneuvers ... More Less

Voice-over narration by James Whitmore as “Sgt. Mac” is heard throughout the film. A dedication at the end of the film reads: “Our grateful appreciation to the United States Marine Corps without whose assistance this picture could not have been possible.” A Jan 1954 Var news item reported that the Marines, fearing negative propaganda, had been hesitant to back an earlier production featuring the Corps, the 1954 United Artists film Beachhead (See Entry). There was therefore some question as to whether they would be interested in supporting Battle Cry , as Leon M. Uris’s novel was, according to an Oct 1953 LADN article, considered by some people to be an indictment of the Corps. However, Marine authorities were pleased with the positive public reaction generated by Beachhead and assured director Raoul Walsh their full cooperation.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add Meg Myles, Capt. Fred Lawton, Sgt. Edgar J. Howard and Mario De Re, the younger brother of Aldo Ray, to the cast. Although a Jan 1954 HR news item reports that Martha Hyer was cast, she did not appear in the final film. Portions of the film were shot on location in California at Fort Pendleton and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, both near San Diego, the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, and an area in the Simi Valley, according to HR news items. A Feb 1955 AmCin and several HR news items reported that battle scenes were shot on location near Vieques Islands, Puerto Rico, where the night training maneuvers of the Second Battalion of the Second Marine Division were filmed.
       Mentioned briefly in the film was the work of the World War II Navajo “code talkers,” who sent secret radio messages in their native language, undecipherable by the enemy. Although the recruits depicted in the film were sent to radio school, and several humorous references were made within the story about off-color limericks sent in Morse code, the battle sequences showed those characters fighting as a squad with a battalion of foot soldiers. The Var review criticized other technical aspects of the picture, stating that real war footage intermixed in the film did “not blow up well to CinemaScope proportions, nor…match the staged battle.” The reviewer also stated that the “unmussed uniforms and unscathed equipment” were “incongruous” to real war. Noting that the film emphasized romantic aspects of the plot, the HR review and others praised the war film as “a great woman’s picture.” The running time of the film was erroneously reported as 140 minutes by the HR review.
       Battle Cry marked the film debuts of Perry Lopez, Don Durant, ten-year-old Harold Knudsen and Justus E. McQueen. McQueen changed his name to L. Q. Jones in 1955. Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award for Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, but lost to Alfred Newman, who scored the 1955 Twentieth Century-Fox film Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (see below). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Apr 54
p. 166.
American Cinematographer
Feb 55
pp. 84, 94-5.
Box Office
5 Feb 1955.
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1953.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Feb 55
p. 7.
Hollywood Citizen-News
31 Jan 1955.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
3 Feb 1955
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1954
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1954
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1955
p. 1.
Los Angeles Daily News
21 Oct 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Feb 55
p. 313.
New York Times
3 Feb 55
p. 18.
Variety
20 Jan 1954.
---
Variety
5 Feb 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Warner Bros. --First National Picture
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Orig mus by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Battle Cry by Leon M. Uris (New York, 1953).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Honey-Babe," music by Max Steiner, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
"Silent Night, Holy Night," music by Franz Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, English lyrics anonymous.
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 March 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Baltimore, MD: 1 February 1955
Los Angeles and New York openings: 2 February 1955
Production Date:
early February--early May 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 March 1955
Copyright Number:
LP6472
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
WarnerColor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
140 or 147-149
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16967
SYNOPSIS

In January 1942, as many young men respond to the call for Marine Corp recruits, All-American athlete Danny Forrester boards a train in Baltimore, Maryland, after saying goodbye to his family and girl friend Kathy. The train picks up other recruits en route to the Marine training camp near San Diego, including womanizing lumberjack Andy Hookans, bookish Marion Hodgkiss, Navajo Indian Shining Lighttower, troublemaking “Spanish” Joe Gomez, L. Q. Jones of Arkansas, Speedy of Texas, and the Philadelphian Ski, who is eager to escape the slums, but upset to leave his girl friend Susan. Several weeks later, after the arduous training of boot camp, the men are accepted into radio school and assigned to the battalion commanded by Maj. Sam “High Pockets” Huxley. The Marines continue their military training and receive rigorous communication instruction from Sgt. Mac, but on weekends they get passes to San Diego. In a sleazy bar there, Ski drowns his sorrows in alcohol and women to forget that Susan has married another man. Concerned about him, Mac and his fellow Marines go to the bar, believing they are coming to his rescue, and get in a brawl with others there. Danny is saved from excessive drinking by the married USO worker Elaine Yarborough, and begins a relationship with her, until Mac, noticing a change in his performance, arranges for him to call Kathy long-distance. Recognizing the young man’s loneliness, Mac and Huxley grant him a furlough to Baltimore, during which Danny elopes with Kathy. Meanwhile, the meditative Marion, who hopes to write about his wartime experiences, meets the beautiful and mysterious Rae on the Coronado ferryboat. Although she meets him there frequently ... +


In January 1942, as many young men respond to the call for Marine Corp recruits, All-American athlete Danny Forrester boards a train in Baltimore, Maryland, after saying goodbye to his family and girl friend Kathy. The train picks up other recruits en route to the Marine training camp near San Diego, including womanizing lumberjack Andy Hookans, bookish Marion Hodgkiss, Navajo Indian Shining Lighttower, troublemaking “Spanish” Joe Gomez, L. Q. Jones of Arkansas, Speedy of Texas, and the Philadelphian Ski, who is eager to escape the slums, but upset to leave his girl friend Susan. Several weeks later, after the arduous training of boot camp, the men are accepted into radio school and assigned to the battalion commanded by Maj. Sam “High Pockets” Huxley. The Marines continue their military training and receive rigorous communication instruction from Sgt. Mac, but on weekends they get passes to San Diego. In a sleazy bar there, Ski drowns his sorrows in alcohol and women to forget that Susan has married another man. Concerned about him, Mac and his fellow Marines go to the bar, believing they are coming to his rescue, and get in a brawl with others there. Danny is saved from excessive drinking by the married USO worker Elaine Yarborough, and begins a relationship with her, until Mac, noticing a change in his performance, arranges for him to call Kathy long-distance. Recognizing the young man’s loneliness, Mac and Huxley grant him a furlough to Baltimore, during which Danny elopes with Kathy. Meanwhile, the meditative Marion, who hopes to write about his wartime experiences, meets the beautiful and mysterious Rae on the Coronado ferryboat. Although she meets him there frequently and seems to admire him greatly, she will not share with him details about her life. Marion learns why she has been evasive, when she shows up with other B-girls ordered by Joe, at a party celebrating the regiment’s orders to ship out. The men are sent to Wellington, New Zealand, where they are warmly received. Andy, who respects no woman, tries to woo the married Pat Rogers by suggesting that he fill the void left by her husband, whom he believes is fighting in Africa. After the offended Pat tells him her husband died in action, Andy apologizes for the first time ever. Pat later invites the reformed Andy to visit her parents’ farm, where, despite their attraction, they agree to remain friends only. After Christmas, the Sixth Regiment, now known as “Huxley’s Harlots,” is sent to Guadalcanal after the invasion to “mop up” a resistant band of Japanese soldiers. Afterward, the battle-weary men, minus Ski, who was killed by a sniper, return to New Zealand, where Pat nurses the malaria-stricken Andy and decides to risk a short-term romance with him. To restore the men's stamina, Huxley, newly promoted to lieutenant colonel, orders them to compete in a brutal 60-mile hike, and while other companies are trucked back to camp, Huxley has his men hike the whole way, blistered and near collapse, but in record-breaking time. Aware that his men are special, Huxley is frustrated when they are not ordered to Tarawa with the main invasion, but held back to clear out remaining Japanese resistance afterward. Pat is afraid of losing another love to the war and tells Andy that she wants to break up, but Andy refuses and asks her to marry him. Although frightened, she accepts and only then admits that she is pregnant. With Huxley’s assistance in cutting through red tape, Andy and Pat marry, but two days later, when the men are to ship out, Andy considers deserting to stay with Pat. Instead of arresting him, Huxley asks Pat to convince Andy to return voluntarily. At Tarawa, Huxley’s men fulfill their mission, but Marion and many others are killed. Afterward, while standing by on reserve on a Hawaiian island, Huxley receives word that other battalions are being moved out for combat. Sensing the restlessness of his men, Huxley risks court-martial to convince Gen. Snipes that the talents of his battalion are being wasted. Although at first offended by Huxley’s “impudence,” Snipes assigns the battalion to the invasion of Red Beach, the most dangerous mission in the Saipan campaign. The men are isolated from the rest of the division, and suffer heavy casualties from artillery fired from the hills above them. Huxley is killed, and Danny and Andy are seriously injured. However, the battalion holds out until a Navy destroyer pins down the Japanese, freeing the Marines to complete their mission. Later, at a rest camp, while recuperating from the loss of a leg, Andy becomes too demoralized to communicate with Pat or his concerned friends, but tough words from Mac make him realize that Pat still loves him. Andy returns to her and his baby son after completing rehabilitation. Danny is also given a medical discharge and returns by train to Baltimore, accompanied by Mac, who is visiting the families of men killed in action. In Baltimore, they say goodbye and Danny reunites with the waiting Kathy, as fresh recruits board the train. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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