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The Red Badge of Courage(1951)

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Pop Culture 101 - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

The Red Badge of Courage was released during the Korean War and,with its questioning attitude about war and heroism, captured America'sgrowing cynicism as that conflict was followed by a more ambiguous war (Viet Nam) that promised to produce no clear cut victory.

Journalist Lillian Ross wrote a series of articles on the film'sproduction for The New Yorker. Later collected in the 1952 bookPicture: A Story About Hollywood, her work is considered one of thedefinitive treatments of the filmmaking process. In particular, it offersrare insight into the way Hollywood worked (and often didn't work) in theyears when the emergence of television adversely affected the movie business and studios were hurt by the Justice Department's ruling thatthey had to sell their theatre chains. Although she was quite critical of director John Huston's partin making the film a box-office disaster, he personally attested to theaccuracy of her work, and they remained friends for years.

One benefit of the drastic re-cutting: The film's shorter length madeit perfect for screening in high school history classes, where it graduallybuilt up a devoted cult following.

In 1974, the film was remade as a television movie. Richard Thomas, thestar of The Waltons, played Henry Fleming, with Charles Aidman asthe Tattered Man. The film did well with critics and in theratings.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

The Red Badge of Courage was a box-office flop, failing to recoverits $1.6 million investment.

Huston's preparations for the film were complicated by three major lifeevents: his father Walter died; he took his fourth wife, Ricki Soma; andSoma delivered his second child (the first to survive), Walter AnthonyHuston, later known as Tony (e would play a small role in hisfather's The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) and write thescreenplay for his The Dead, 1987).

Huston started out directing the film on horseback, something he'dalways dreamed of doing. He eventually had to abandon his dream when itproved too hard on the horse.

Huston appears in a crowd scene as one of the experienced Unionsoldiers jeering the Youth and other raw recruits.

Filming the battle scenes required 80,000 rounds of ammunition at acost of $110 per thousand.

For the river-crossing scene, Douglas Dick (Lieutenant) wore asilver-sheathed sword Huston's great grandfather had carried in the CivilWar. Unfortunately, Dick played around with the sword a bit too much. Atone point he tried to stick it in the ground and ended up putting itthrough his foot. Huston worked his injury into the film.

During location filming, Murphy dated Sharon Quiggle, a student atChico State College who worked as a window dresser in the town's leadingdepartment store. He even brought her up to Los Angeles with her familyfor a visit. Their relationship cooled off after she returned to Chico,where she eventually married another man.

John Dierkes (Tall Soldier), who had barely acted before, developed an oversized ego during filming and started demanding a private dressing room like theones Murphy and Mauldin had. To shut him up, Huston put his name on one ofthe portable toilets set up on location.

During production Huston and Reinhardt played poker. At first Huston,who was a master at bluffing, had Reinhardt in debt to him. Then Mauldintook pity on Reinhardt and gave him a book on how to play poker. By thetime the production was finished, Huston owed Reinhardt about$15,000.

When Royal Dano filmed his character's death scene, Huston was soimpressed he told reporters Dano was the only actor he'd worked with whowas as easy to direct as his father, Walter Huston. Later, when told hisdeath scene had been cut because audiences had laughed at war hero AudieMurphy running away from a dying man, Dano commented, "They removed theturning point of the story. It was like removing the baby and leaving theafterbirth.".

Famous Quotes from THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

"How do you know you won't run when the time comes?" -- Audie Murphy asHenry Fleming to Bill Mauldin as the Loud Soldier.

"He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage." -- JamesWhitmore's narration, explaining the title.

"Always seems like more of you is getting killed than there are." -- AndyDevine as the Fat Soldier.

"Just turn your affairs over to the Lord, and go on and do your duty. Thenif you get killed, it's his concern. Anyway, dying's only dying.Supposing you don't hear the birds sing tomorrow, or see the sun go down.It's going to happen anyway. And, you know, son, that thought gave mepeace of mind." -- Devine.

"I got holes in my pants, holes in my shoes, but there ain't no holes in meother than the ones God intended." -- Arthur Hunnicutt as Bill Porter, onhis good fortune in battle.

"By diddy, here we are! Everybody fightin'! Blood and dee-struction!" --Hunnicutt.

"Lordy, what a fight! And I got shot!" -- John Dierkes as the TallSoldier, rambling on in shock after the big battle.

"I ain't never seen no fella do like that afore. He were a dandy, weren'the?" -- Royal Dano as the Tattered Man, commenting on Dierkes'death.

"So it came to pass that as he trudged from the place of blood and wrathhis soul changed. He had been to touch the Great Death and found that,after all, it was but the Great Death. Scars faded as flowers and theyouth saw that the world was a world for him. He had rid himself of thered sickness of battle and the sultry nightmare was in the past. He turnednow with a lover's thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, coolbrooks, an existence of soft and eternal peace." -- Whitmore, deliveringthe film's final narration.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

The Big Idea Behind THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

Stephen Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage in 1893.

Although he had never fought in the Civil War, Crane captured theatmosphere accurately by studying Matthew Brady's legendary photographsfrom that era. Director John Huston would instruct cameraman Harold Rossonto capture the same look for the film.

In 1950, Huston had just been pulled off MGM's big budget production ofQuo Vadis? (1951) after a fight over the film's direction betweenproduction chief Dore Schary, who wanted to emphasize the picture'scontemporary political parallels, and studio head Louis B. Mayer, whowanted a typical Hollywood spectacle. Mervyn LeRoy took over the film,which became a huge hit.

Huston was a friend of producer Wolfgang Reinhardt from their daystogether at Warner Bros. Reinhardt's younger brother, Gottfried, wasproducing at MGM and approached Huston, who had just made The AsphaltJungle (1950) there, about working on a film version of Stephen Crane'sclassic novel.

MGM bought the rights to Stephen Crane's book for $10,000.

Originally Huston and Reinhardt wanted Norman Mailer, currently enjoying the success of his best-selling novel, The Naked and the Dead, to write the screenplay.When he wasn't available, Schary suggested that Huston write ithimself.

The first draft script was written by Huston's production assistant,Albert Band, who would go on to become a prolific producer and director oflow-budget films, particularly in the '70s and '80s. Band simplytranslated the book's dialogue and action into screenplay form. Hustonthen did the re-write during a trip to Mexico. He took great pride in thefact that two-thirds of the dialogue came directly from thenovel.

Mayer hated the film's script and tried to have the productioncancelled. He said, "I would rather shoot Huston than shoot the picture.We could then put the money into a defense in court. No jury would convictme." Finally he and Schary appealed to Nicholas Schenck -- head of MGM'sparent company, Loew's Inc. -- to choose between them. Schenck sided withSchary.

Mayer then tried to talk Huston and Reinhardt out of making the film."How can you make a picture of boys with funny caps and popguns, and makepeople think the war they are fighting is terrible?" he argued. WhenHuston gave in too easily, however, he lectured him: "John Huston, I'mashamed of you! Do you believe in this picture? Have you any reason forwanting to make it other than the fact that you believe in it?...Stick byyour guns! Never let me hear you talk like this again! I don't like thispicture. I don't think it will make money. I don't want to make it, and Iwill continue to do everything in my power to keep you from making it. Butyou -- you should do everything in your power to make it!."

Mayer continued badmouthing the picture, most notably in his interviewwith Lillian Ross for her articles on the film's production in The NewYorker (later republished as Picture in 1952) and at the firstpreview. This unprecedented behavior for a studio executive wouldcontribute to his ouster from MGM in 1951.

Casting Audie Murphy in the lead was director John Huston's idea. Hewas intrigued by the contrast between his war record and his physicalappearance: "This little, gentle-eyed creature. Why, in the war he'dliterally go out of his way to find Germans to kill. He's a gentle littlekiller."

Reinhardt and Schary wanted an established star like Montgomery Cliftor Van Johnson in the leading role. They finally bowed to Huston's wisheswhen gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who was a friend of Murphy's, putpressure on them. She later explained, "I called Dore and said it would benice seeing a real soldier playing the part of a screen soldier for achange. With so many of our young men going to Korea, putting Audie in thepicture would aid in boosting their morale. Audie got the part."Ironically, she had never read the original novel.

Murphy had been the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II, adistinction that put him on the cover of Life magazine and broughthim to Hollywood, where he made a series of low-budget Westerns atUniversal Studios. After six movies there, the offer to star as the YoungSoldier in The Red Badge of Courage was the first role he feltsuited for.

Murphy wasn't the only actor in the film on whom Huston was taking achance. He had met John Dierkes, cast as the Tall Soldier, in Londonduring the war and thought he was right for the part. Dierkes took a leavefrom his job with the Treasury Department to make the film and never wentback, spending the rest of his life as an actor. Bill Mauldin -- who madehis name with his political cartoons for the U.S. military newspaper,Stars and Stripes -- had met Huston while the director was filminghis documentary The Battle of San Pietro (1945). Huston told himhis role as the Loud Soldier was typecasting.

Murphy's salary for the film was $2,500 a week with a ten weekguarantee, relatively low for a leading man on a major studio production.Huston was paid $137,334 for directing and another $28,000 for writing thescreenplay. Most of it had to be paid to him in advance so he could coverhis gambling debts.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Behind the Camera on THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

Filming started on August 25, 1950.

Originally, director John Huston had wanted to shoot The Red Badgeof Courage in Virginia. When that proved too expensive, he moved thelocation to his farm in Calabasas, Calif.

Originally Huston tried to save time by having his assistant director,Andrew Marton, line up one shot while he was finishing another. But Hustonhad trouble making up his mind about what he really wanted. When he spentmore time rearranging the shots Marton had lined up than he might havespent doing it all himself, he abandoned the idea.

To cast extras for the crowd scenes, Huston sent his assistants intothe pool halls of nearby Chico, Calif., to find what he described as"grizzled SOBs" to avoid giving the film a Hollywood look.

Although Audie Murphy usually went through life with a detachedlanguor, he erupted twice during filming. At one point one of theassistant directors yelled at him the wrong way, and Murphy left the crowdscene he was in, grabbed the man by the shirt and told him, "Don't you evertalk to me like that again!" In another incident he stopped two men in a car from harassing some teens on motorscooters. When the men tried to start a fight with him, he attacked bothwith his riding crop. They had to go to the hospital, never knowing thatthey'd been beaten up by World War II's most decoratedsoldier.

Huston got around Murphy's insecurities by maintaining a cheerful airat all times. Observers thought he had developed almost a paternalrelationship with the young man who, at 26, was still haunted by thehorrors he had witnessed during World War II.

At one point in the original script, the Loud Soldier (Bill Mauldin)accused Murphy's character of cowardice. During repeated re-takes, theaccusation got to Murphy, who finally accused Mauldin of trying to get athim with the line. Murphy also had trouble admitting that he was a cowardin the scene. Finally, Mauldin suggested, "I think Audie is having troubleconfessing to a Stars and Stripes cartoonist that he ran frombattle." Huston did a hurried re-write so that Mauldin would confess hisfear first, prompting Murphy's character to admit to his ownfeelings.

Huston never looked at the film's rushes. When Reinhardt told him onescene needed to be re-shot, Huston looked at it, then re-shot it in exactlythe same way.

Huston finished principal photography in 49 days.

When filming was completed, Huston held a special screening for thecast and crew and invited directors and producers. They were overwhelmed,and he declared it the best film he had ever made. Murphy couldn't believehe had turned in such an impressive performance, and his mentor, HeddaHopper, declared it the best war film ever made.

Unfortunately, the film's public previews in February 1951 weredisastrous. Although some people loved the film, more hated it, and manywalked out during the screening. Some of the most serious scenes evokedlaughter. Huston ran off to London the day after the first preview. In apanic, studio executives added a narration by James Whitmore, including an explanatory introduction written by studio production chief Dore Scharyto explain that the novel had been universally hailed as a classic. Itdidn't help. Audiences at the third preview still hated thefilm.

By this point, Huston was already in Africa doing extensive locationshooting for his next film, The African Queen (1951). In his absence,Schary re-edited the film. He cut whole scenes, including the TatteredMan's (Royal Dano) death scene, which had drawn laughs at previews. Manyon the production considered it the finest scene in the film and thought itwould win Dano an Oscar®. Schary also cut an entire cavalry charge andmany of the small touches that had deepened and humanized the film.Putting together the now-mangled footage produced continuity errors.Huston's best film ever was reduced from two hours and 15 minutes to a mere69 minutes.

After seeing what MGM had done to the film, Huston instructed his agentto include a clause in all future contracts guaranteeing that he wouldreceive a copy of his director's cut on all of his films.

The film's final cost was $1,642,017.33.

With continued poor results from test screenings, MGM sneaked the filmout as a second feature on double bills with an Esther Williams picture (Texas Carnival, 1951) andthen only in smaller theatres.

When the film played on the second half of a double bill in London, alocal critic caught it and was so impressed he arranged a press screeningfor his colleagues. They all wrote columns demanding the film be given aproper release. Finally, MGM gave in and booked the film into a West Endtheatre, where it flopped.

Four years later, with the success of Murphy's film autobiography,To Hell and Back (1955), he and some Texas friends tried to buyThe Red Badge of Courage from MGM so they could shoot new footage toreplace what had been cut. The studio turned him down.

In 1957, Huston and Reinhardt tried to get a copy of the originalnegative only to learn that the studio had destroyed it. Almost 20 yearslater, when he was directing The Man Who Would Be King (1975),Huston received a cable from MGM management asking if he had a copy of hisoriginal cut. He had struck a 16mm print, but by that time it had beenlost.

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

The Critics' Corner on THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

"Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" has been transformed by John Huston into a striking screen close-up of a young man's introduction to battle...The dialogue is sparing but acute, and the camera work is a procession of visual effects detailing most vividly the progress of a Civil War battle. Except for a redundant narration that clutters up the sound track from time to time explaining facts already clear in the images, there are no concessions made to movie conventions in this film." - The New York Tribune.

"A brilliant emotional drama, a memorable war saga...It's a wonderful example of modern film art." - The New York Mirror.

"The picture does not become a fully realized experience, nor is it deeply moving. It is as if, somewhere between shooting and final version, the light of inspiration had died." - The New York Post.

"The Red Badge of Courage bids fair to become one of the classic American motion pictures." - Newsweek.

"If Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" is considered a classic of American nineteenth-century literature, John Huston's adaptation of it for the screen may well become a classic of American twentieth-century film-making." - Saturday Review of Literature.

"Audie Murphy plays the youth as if he were living every moment of therole, suffering every step as he advances against the enemy, wondering ifhe will stay to fight like a man or if he will run in cowardice. (I metMr. Murphy recently, and I was surprised to find that he has in real lifethe same boyish face and fresh, polite attitude that he displays in themovies. It is almost incredible that this youthful, untroubled facebelongs to the man who won so many medals in World War II.)" -Commonweal.

"Audie Murphy, who plays the Young Soldier, does as well as anyone couldexpect as a virtual photographer's model upon whom the camera is mostlyturned. And his stupefied facial expression and erratic attitudes whengrim experiences crowd him suggest what goes on in his mind. These,coupled with the visual evidence of all that surrounds him and all he sees,plus the help of an occasional narration that sketchily tells us what hefeels, do all that can be expected to give us the inner sight of Mr.Crane's book." - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times.

"Huston's direction -- with its sparse narrative, unusual camera angles andshadowy black and white imagery -- shows the influence of film noir,a genre he helped create. He augments this with a mobile camera -- lots ofpanning, tracking, and dolly shots -- to mirror the pace of the war scenes.The fall and redemption of the protagonist, while clearly predictable, isstill intelligently and effectively executed." - Dan Jardine, All MovieGuide.

"Despite the mutilation...some 70 minutes remain of John Huston's film version....and much of it is breathtaking." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

"Red Badge remains as a series of gracious battle scenes, a noble aspiration, but a folly and a mess." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

"This is not a lyrically pessimistic film; its conclusion is rather a positive stoicism, an active scepticism that is not devoid of humor. Its emphasis is on interior development. This is not psychological but romanesque; not a spectacle but a narrative wedded to a critical intelligence." - Andre Bazin.

Awards & Honors

The National Board of Review ranked The Red Badge of Couragesecond on its list of the ten best films of 1951.

The film was nominated for Best Film From Any Source by the BritishFilm Academy.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Even after boasting at training camp of becoming a hero in battle, Henry Fleming, a Union soldier played by Audie Murphy in The Red Badge of Courage (1951), soon panics from the explosions of both friendly and enemy fire in his first conflict and runs frantically towards the rear as others fall wounded and dying around him. The legendary director, John Huston, inspired by the realism of Matthew Brady's Civil War photographs, utilizes truck shots, camera pans and dollies as Henry wanders away from "the field of honor" and into disgrace, earning his so-called blood stain or red badge of courage not in the heat of battle but by being hit by a frightened soldier on the run, knocking him unconscious. Finally, bolstered by a sense of shame and anger he finds his old unit again, this time with a chance for redemption, straddling that fine line between cowardice and bravery.

How The Red Badge of Courage got made has become a well known battle of its own. Well documented in Lillian Ross's book of collected New Yorker articles on the making of the movie, entitled Picture, Huston found himself trapped in the midst of a takeover of MGM's management (under the rule of Louis B. Mayer) by studio executive Dore Schary and his rebellious followers. While Huston liked what Stephan Crane's classic 1893 novel The Red Badge of Courage had to say about war, the futility of it all and the coming of age through crisis, the two executive combatants saw it only as a chance to fight over valuable turf, with Mayer hating the new trend towards realism (including Huston's earlier heist thriller, The Asphalt Jungle, 1950) and Schary giving the go ahead to this relatively small, but suddenly important film that now pitted one side against the other.

All John Huston wanted to do, aside from being faithful to Crane's original story, was, according to Lillian Ross, "to direct a picture on horseback." However, this was a short lived fantasy that only lasted a day because the horse couldn't take the constant activity. But direct he did, getting the most from his actors and extras (some of them selected from nearby bars and poolrooms for that drawn and war-like look). Even though Huston had so many distractions, both from the studio side and of a personal nature during the making of this film (including his getting married, having a child and losing his father, the great actor, Walter Huston, who died unexpectedly), he still felt as though the film may have been the best he'd ever done. That is, until he was pulled away in post production to film The African Queen (1951) and Schary, wanting to control more and more of the filmmaking process, went ahead and made severe cuts in the film anyway. Schary's headstrong, often impulsive behavior emerged later as well; actor James Mason witnessed the mogul belting William Saroyan after the writer refused to stop talking at Schary's screening of The Red Badge of Courage. As for Schary's version of the film, we now see Audie Murphy leading a charge with a bandanna wrapped about his head, then rushing forward without a bandanna and then firing his rifle with the bandanna once more around his head. Yet, even after adding James Whitmore as a narrator for "clarity" and shortening the movie to a mere 69 minutes, The Red Badge of Courage remains a minor classic, notable for its sensitive depiction of a young man's struggle to come to terms with his own identity. Although we do have the existing 69 minute print, Huston's original cut was lost, which made the director insist in all future contracts that he be granted a copy of the first cut of any film he made.

Seen today, The Red Badge of Courage is particularly interesting for its ensemble acting, performances that were shaped by Huston. Among the cast members are first timer political cartoonist Bill Mauldin as "The Loud Soldier," John Dierkes as "The Tall Soldier" and Royal Dano as "The Tattered Soldier." But it is Audie Murphy who pulls this film together in arguably his finest role. As the review in Commonweal put it, "Audie Murphy plays the Youth as if he were living every moment of the role, suffering every step as he advances against the enemy, wondering if he will stay to fight like a man or if he will run in cowardice." A hero of the second World War Murphy was not a fan of war movies because as he said in his biography No Name on the Bullet by Don Graham, he felt most of those films were, "glamorized too darn much!" and the humor in them was, "phony." Yet, he liked the Crane novel because of its essential truth, "Psychologically, wars don't change, you're all alone in a battle." And even though it was the time of the Korean War and many felt the subtleties of Huston's version of The Red Badge of Courage did not meet the public's demand for clear cut definitions of war and victory, Audie decided to take on the role anyway, because, as Graham explains it, "if the film could capture the honesty of the book, it would be a fine piece of work." Convinced that Huston was the man to accomplish this, Audie signed up for the role, lending it and the film a sense of authenticity and compassion.

However, not all were convinced that he could do the job. The producers wanted someone like Montgomery Clift or Van Johnson, who had starred in Schary's earlier war film, Battleground (1949). So, staunch patriot and powerful gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper, a strong supporter of Murphy, went to bat for him. As she said in Murphy's biography, "I called Dore and said it would be nice seeing a real soldier playing the part of a screen soldier for a change. With so many of our young men going to Korea, putting Audie in the picture would aid in boosting their morale. Audie got the part."

As with most men trained to kill in war, it was difficult for Murphy to adjust to civilian life, even though he became a successful actor and businessman. Still, he constantly struggled with anger and violence and eventually his film career and business dealings suffered setbacks in the late sixties. In 1968 he was declared bankrupt and in 1970 he was cleared of attempted murder after beating up a man in a barroom brawl. He was killed the following year along with five others in a small plane crash. Having experienced the peaks and valleys of Hollywood, with reviews that ran from the nearly vitriolic to high praise, The Red Badge of Couragewas certainly his brightest moment, one that is thankfully preserved for all of us to see.

Producer: Gottfried Reinhardt
Director: John Huston
Screenplay: Albert Band, John Huston, based on the novel by Stephen Crane
Production Design: Lee Katz Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Film Editing: Ben Lewis
Original Music: Bronistau Kaper
Principal Cast: Audie Murphy (Henry Fleming "the Youth"), Bill Mauldin (Tom Wilson "the Loud Soldier"), John Dierkes (Jim Conklin "the Tall Soldier"), Andy Devine ("The Cheerful Soldier"), Arthur Hunnicutt (Bill Porter), Royal Dano ("The Tattered Soldier"), Robert Easton (Thompson), Douglas Dick (The Lieutenant), Tim Durant (The General).
BW-69m. Closed captioning.

by Joe D'Onofrio

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teaser The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Throughout his long and illustrious career, John Huston always maintained that this Civil War picture examining the fine line between cowardice and bravery, "could have been" his greatest film, and clearly it is among the director's best, despite the altering by studio executives.  Audie Murphy, the most decorated hero of World War II, plays Henry Fleming, a youth who joins the Union army and waits impatiently for the orders that will take him into battle.  When the time finally comes to fight, the once boastful Henry flees in terror instead of facing the enemy.  Eventually, he must confront his fear and return to his unit for another battle.

What's striking about The Red Badge of Courage (1951) is that it doesn't have a traditional story line. Instead, it covers a few, brief hours of war and the effect it has on a handful of characters. Director John Huston skillfully presents Stephen Crane's famous story as an allegory of all wars and his direction is lucid in every scene, from the film's sweeping battle sequences to isolated moments of terror and panic when Henry Fleming is confronted with death all around him. Cinematographer Harold Rosson gives the film a rough, granular texture, beautifully evoking the period and the photographs of Civil War cameraman Matthew Brady. Yet most of all, it is Murphy and the cast of charismatic near-unknowns that give the film its soul, especially Andy Devine as a cheery soldier who lets "God do his worrying."

One of the unanswered questions about The Red Badge of Courage is how much more effective it might have been in its original form. Huston left the production immediately after its completion to fly across the world to make The African Queen (1951), leaving his film in the hands of studio chiefs who cut it after the film failed miserably with preview audiences.  They removed much of the director's questioning of the need for warfare (which they found objectionable during the then-current Cold War), added narration by James Whitmore, and reduced the running time to a paltry 69 minutes. Still embarrassed by the negative audience reaction, MGM sent the film out without fanfare, offering it as a second feature on double bills, hardly a way to recoup its $1.6 million production costs. Without the studio's support, the film became a commercial bomb. Audiences failed to identify with the film's grim realism and the classic Crane story wasn't enough of a draw to insure box-office success. It also didn't help that the film featured no big name stars in leading roles. And despite positive reviews by the critics (specifically for Murphy, who received the best notices of his career), American audiences in 1951 were simply not ready to examine the fine line between cowardice and bravery, especially in lieu of their victories during World War II and their current involvement in the Korean War.

A sad footnote for those who have ever hoped for a fully restored version of this classic film: Huston received a cable from MGM in 1975 which asked if he had a print of the original cut of The Red Badge of Courage. Unfortunately, it didn't exist, as it was destroyed years earlier. From that point on, Huston stipulated in all his future contracts that he would receive a sixteen-millimeter print of the first cut of any film he made in an effort to avoid the terrible lessons learned on The Red Badge of Courage. For those so inclined, full details of the frustrating events and ego clashes that occurred during the making of this film are strikingly captured in Lillian Ross's book Picture: A Story About Hollywood.

Producer: Gottfried Reinhardt
Director: John Huston
Screenplay: Stephen Crane (novel), Albert Band (adaptation), John Huston
Production Design: Lee KatzCinematography: Harold Rosson
Film Editing: Ben Lewis
Original Music: Bronislau Kaper
Principal Cast: Andy Devine (The Cheerful Soldier), Robert Easton (Thompson), Douglas Dick (The Lieutenant), Tim Durant (The General), Arthur Hunnicutt (Bill Porter).
BW-70m. Closed captioning.

By Michael Toole

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