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Film star Audie Murphy plays himself in this tale of how he became World War II's most decorated U.S. soldier.
In 1937 in northeast Texas, after his father abandons the family, twelve-year-old Audie Murphy supports his ill mother and seven younger brothers and sisters by quitting school and working for a neighboring farmer. Four years later, just as Pearl Harbor is attacked, Audie's mother dies, and he is forced to remand his siblings to the state orphanage. Desperate to raise enough money to support them, Audie turns to the military, but because he is underage and undersized, is rejected by the Marines, Navy and Air Force. Although he is finally accepted as an Army foot soldier, Audie suffers the teasing of the older soldiers. He ships out to a new infantry combat platoon in Casablanca, North Africa, where his superior, Lt. Manning, notes his physical deficiencies and recommends he be reassigned. Manning changes his mind, however, after Audie insists upon fighting and signs up for every educational course. The men soon accept Audie into their ranks, with gruff Brandon taking the boy under his wing. One night at a rowdy bar, they hear on the radio that the Allies have won Africa, but although they hope to be sent home, they are routed to Sicily. The Allies take the island in thirty-eight days, during which time Audie's leadership qualities earn him a promotion to corporal, an honor that causes his buddies, eager to avoid responsibility, to tease him. One night, Audie draws out of Brandon his story about the ex-wife and child he abandoned but now misses desperately, and Audie, thinking of his own father, urges his friend to reconcile. When he is then ordered to lead a dangerous mission to draw attention away from the incoming troops, Audie, hoping to keep Brandon safe, leaves him behind, and then performs admirably. In the morning, the battalion is attacked, and Manning is shot and the sergeant killed. Audie takes charge of the men but is ordered to stay in position as a decoy, a mission they barely survive. Over the next few months, the men struggle through horrific battles in pouring rain, growing frustrated and exhausted. Finally, Manning returns to the unit with news of Audie's promotion to sergeant, and a two-week leave in Naples for Audie and his friends. In the city, soldier Kovak refuses to carouse after seeing the poor Italian orphans. Johnson brings a girl to her home, only to talk endlessly about his American girl friend, and Kerrigan is seduced by a beautiful woman, but has his boots stolen. Audie, meanwhile, impresses local girl Maria by offering her brothers chocolate, and she invites him to dinner. When an air raid occurs, her family hides in the bomb shelter, and Maria stays with Audie in the kitchen, where they kiss. After their rest, the men fight on, and by the time they are ordered to attack an Italian farmhouse that serves as a headquarters, Audie is a seasoned leader. During the skirmish, a sniper in the house takes out Manning and Kovak, and Audie courageously targets and kills him. They capture the house, and when Italian tanks bear down on them, they give their coordinates to the American naval ships, which then bomb the lead tank, blocking the road. At night, while enlisted man Valentino mourns Kovak, Audie brushes off the new replacement soldiers, and Johnson explains to them that it is too painful for a soldier to make new friends, as he may lose them at any time. Audie soon hears the Italians repairing the tank, and, realizing the impending peril, he leads his men in an ambush, blowing up the tank. For his heroism, Audie is then offered a battlefield commission as lieutenant, but since it would mean transferring to another unit, he refuses. During the next battle, Johnson is killed, after which the battalion is sent to France for amphibious training, as the Nazis begin to fall back into Germany. At the front in France, Brandon falls out of contact while doing reconnaissance, and Audie goes after him. Although he orders Brandon out of harm's way, the soldier follows his friend and leader, and together they grenade a sniper. Thinking they are out of danger, Brandon stands and is shot. An enraged Audie storms the enemy foxholes one by one, killing each German soldier himself, and returns to Brandon's body, unable to leave him in the field. That night, the battalion commander offers Audie the lieutenant position and free entrance to West Point, as well as the right to stay with his troops until the end of the war. To their chagrin, Kerrigan and Valentino are also promoted. Next, they embark on a crucial mission to take the last stronghold city on the French/German border. With support minimal and Nazi troops coming on quickly, Audie orders his men to retreat but stays on at the front to direct naval bombs. Alone, Audie then commandeers an Allied tank and shoots down the approaching enemies one by one. His men watch in fear as the tank, loaded with gasoline and ammunition, catches fire, but Audie refuses to back down until he has caused the Nazi troops to withdraw. Only then does he collapse from a gunshot wound to his hip, and when Valentino tries to stay and help him, Audie orders his friend to leave. In the infirmary, a slightly wounded Kerrigan visits and learns that Audie's wound, while not life-threatening, will keep him from his dream of entering West Point. On 9 August, 1945, just after his nineteenth birthday, Audie receives an honorable discharge from the Army. In addition to the three Purple Hearts, Bronze Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Bronze Service Arrowhead, Legion of Merit, two Silver Star Medals, Distinguished Service Cross, and Legion of Honor Chevalier from the French governments, he is awarded the military's highest tribute, the Congressional Medal of Honor. As Audie accepts his award, he remembers the many dead friends who fought alongside him.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in San Antonio, TX: 17 Aug 1955; New York opening: 22 Sep 1955; Los Angeles opening: 11 Oct 1955|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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User Ratings & Review
A Must See!
The movie is so unique for the fact Audie played himself! I don't know of that occurring with any war hero? I feel it should be aired more often and...
Sergio Rodriguez 2007-06-05
I watched this movie, when I was 7 year old, and by that time it was already an oldie. I never seen this movie again, but I remember it as it was just...
Truth is Always Better than Fiction.
patricia boyens 2006-05-31
I have seen this movie many times, and am constantly in awe of this young, noble, and brave soldier who devotion to family and duty cannot be overstated. ...