Immortal Sergeant (1943)

90-91 mins | Drama | 29 January 1943

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HISTORY

The film's opening title card reads "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara in John Brophy's Immortal Sergeant ." Lamar Trotti's onscreen credit reads "Produced and written for the screen by Lamar Trotti." HR news items reveal the following about the production: Studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck was scheduled to produce the picture personally, but could not due to active military duty. In early Aug 1942, first Archie Mayo, and then Henry Hathaway were set to direct the picture, which was to feature George Sanders as "Cottrell." Sanders turned down the role, however, and was suspended and replaced by Morton Lowry. Although a HR news item included Ralph Byrd in the cast, his appearance in the completed film is unlikely. Art director James Basevi and photographer Clyde De Vinna, while not receiving onscreen credit, are listed in HR news items and production charts as contributors.
       Immortal Sergeant was Henry Fonda's last film for the duration of the war. ( The Ox-Bow Incident , which starred Fonda and was released later in 1943, was filmed prior to the making of this picture. Immortal Sergeant was released first due to its wartime theme, according to HR . Fonda's first film after the war was the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox production My Darling Clementine .) Fonda enlisted in the Navy before production began, and in order to enable him to report for training, the studio hurried production. Accordingly, James Tinling directed a second unit of "battle and specific background shots," while John Stahl "devoted himself entirely to scenes ... More Less

The film's opening title card reads "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara in John Brophy's Immortal Sergeant ." Lamar Trotti's onscreen credit reads "Produced and written for the screen by Lamar Trotti." HR news items reveal the following about the production: Studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck was scheduled to produce the picture personally, but could not due to active military duty. In early Aug 1942, first Archie Mayo, and then Henry Hathaway were set to direct the picture, which was to feature George Sanders as "Cottrell." Sanders turned down the role, however, and was suspended and replaced by Morton Lowry. Although a HR news item included Ralph Byrd in the cast, his appearance in the completed film is unlikely. Art director James Basevi and photographer Clyde De Vinna, while not receiving onscreen credit, are listed in HR news items and production charts as contributors.
       Immortal Sergeant was Henry Fonda's last film for the duration of the war. ( The Ox-Bow Incident , which starred Fonda and was released later in 1943, was filmed prior to the making of this picture. Immortal Sergeant was released first due to its wartime theme, according to HR . Fonda's first film after the war was the 1946 Twentieth Century-Fox production My Darling Clementine .) Fonda enlisted in the Navy before production began, and in order to enable him to report for training, the studio hurried production. Accordingly, James Tinling directed a second unit of "battle and specific background shots," while John Stahl "devoted himself entirely to scenes involving the principals, particularly Fonda." The majority of the desert sequences were filmed on location near El Centro and Brawley, in the Mojave Desert, CA: and "Spence" and "Valentine's" swimming scenes were shot at Malibu Lake, CA. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Mar 43
p. 95.
Box Office
16 Jan 1943.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jan 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 Jan 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 42
p. 2, 9
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 42
p. 2, 6
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 42
p. 25.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 43
p. 8.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Jan 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald
9 Jan 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Nov 42
p. 995.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Jan 43
p. 1101.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 43
p. 1280.
New York Times
4 Feb 43
p. 29.
Variety
13 Jan 43
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by, Wrt for the scr by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
DANCE
Dance seq staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst loc mgr
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Immortal Sergeant by John Brophy (New York, 1942).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
John Brophy's Immortal Sergeant
Release Date:
29 January 1943
Production Date:
10 September--mid November 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
9 December 1942
Copyright Number:
LP12167
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in feet):
8,166
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8854
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

While shy Canadian journalist Colin Spence is living in London, he joins the British Army and is stationed in Libya. There he serves under Sergeant Kelly, a longtime military man who is greatly admired by his men. Although Kelly takes an interest in Spence and tries to build up his ego, Spence remains unassertive. One afternoon, Spence remembers a time before the war, when he went with his girl friend, Valentine Lee, to a party at which they met war correspondent Tom Benedict. Benedict was a self-assured blowhard who easily impressed Valentine, and Spence soon regreted introducing them. Back in the desert, Kelly and Spence lead a reconnaisance patrol of fourteen men into the brutal heat. As they are traveling, Spence again remembers Valentine, who was further won over by Benedict when he impressed her on her birthday. Spence's mind returns to the present when the patrol stops for lunch, but before they resume their journey, they are attacked by Italian airplanes. During the ensuing skirmish, Spence and his men shoot down one of the planes, but it crashes on one of the patrol's trucks, killing eight men. With only Spence, Symes, Pilcher, Cottrell and Cassidy and himself left, Kelly moves the men onward, but that night, admits to Spence that they are lost. Spence is frightened when Kelly says that he must assume command if anything happens to him, but Kelly admonishes him to get the patrol home safely. The next day, a passing British plane warns them that an Italian armored car is ahead. Hoping to use the car for transportation, Kelly leads the men to it, but his plans ... +


While shy Canadian journalist Colin Spence is living in London, he joins the British Army and is stationed in Libya. There he serves under Sergeant Kelly, a longtime military man who is greatly admired by his men. Although Kelly takes an interest in Spence and tries to build up his ego, Spence remains unassertive. One afternoon, Spence remembers a time before the war, when he went with his girl friend, Valentine Lee, to a party at which they met war correspondent Tom Benedict. Benedict was a self-assured blowhard who easily impressed Valentine, and Spence soon regreted introducing them. Back in the desert, Kelly and Spence lead a reconnaisance patrol of fourteen men into the brutal heat. As they are traveling, Spence again remembers Valentine, who was further won over by Benedict when he impressed her on her birthday. Spence's mind returns to the present when the patrol stops for lunch, but before they resume their journey, they are attacked by Italian airplanes. During the ensuing skirmish, Spence and his men shoot down one of the planes, but it crashes on one of the patrol's trucks, killing eight men. With only Spence, Symes, Pilcher, Cottrell and Cassidy and himself left, Kelly moves the men onward, but that night, admits to Spence that they are lost. Spence is frightened when Kelly says that he must assume command if anything happens to him, but Kelly admonishes him to get the patrol home safely. The next day, a passing British plane warns them that an Italian armored car is ahead. Hoping to use the car for transportation, Kelly leads the men to it, but his plans go awry when Symes's gun goes off accidentally, and the enemy is alerted to their presence. Symes is killed during the exchange of gunfire, and Kelly is seriously wounded. Spence gets the sergeant to cover, where he refuses to listen to Kelly's orders to leave him behind for the good of the group. While Spence is discussing the situation with the remaining three men, Kelly shoots himself, and the soldiers bury their brave sergeant. Spence then assumes leadership of the patrol and drives the men hard, as Kelly had instructed him. While they are walking, Spence's mind drifts back to Valentine, who spent his first leave with him and encouraged him to be more assertive romantically. Spence's reverie ends when the group finds an oasis, which is held by German soldiers. While Spence waits for dark, he remembers the last time he saw Valentine, when it appeared that Benedict had completely won her affections. As darkness falls in the desert, Spence crawls into the oasis and hears Kelly's voice urging him on. Spence steals food and water, then dismantles the Germans' radio equipment before returning to his men. There, Spence tells them that they must try to take the German stronghold, explaining that it is the cumulative effect of every single man fighting in every position that will win the war. Using Spence's strategy, the men split up and engage the enemy during a sandstorm. Spence is with Cottrell and fights hard until an explosion knocks him out. Later, Spence awakens in a Cairo hospital, where Cottrell tells him that he was wounded when Cottrell threw a grenade in the enemy munitions dump. The action was successful, although Cassidy was killed. Pilcher is recovering in the same hospital, and both Cottrell and Spence have been awarded distinguished conduct medals. Spence is trying to assimilate the information when Benedict arrives and is his usual sarcastic self. Suddenly aware of his own strength, and no longer afraid, Spence orders Benedict to send Valentine a telegram saying that he wants to marry her. Benedict protests, but Spence intimidates him and sends him on his way. Soon after, Spence, who has been promoted to lieutenant, meets Valentine at a London railway station. There, Spence once again hears Kelly's encouraging words as he embraces Valentine. +

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

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