The Story of G. I. Joe


1h 48m 1945
The Story of G. I. Joe

Brief Synopsis

War correspondent Ernie Pyle joins an Army platoon during World War II to learn what battle is really about.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ernie Pyles Story of G I Joe, Here Is Your War, Story of G. I. Joe
Genre
Drama
War
Biography
Release Date
Jul 13, 1945
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lester Cowan Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California-Arizona Maneuver Area, Arizona, United States; Fort Ord, California, United States; Palmdale, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Here Is Your War by Ernie Pyle (New York, 1943) and his book Brave Men (New York, 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,787 or 9,896ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

For his first assignment on the front, war correspondent Ernie Pyle joins up with Company C of the Army's 18th Infantry, also on its virgin mission, in the North African desert. The company's seasoned leader, Lt. Bill Walker, informs Ernie that his recruits are not yet "an outfit," but will have a chance to prove themselves soon enough. That night, as lanky soldier Robert "Wingless" Murphy complains to his tent mate about being ousted from the Air Force because of his height, honey-throated "Axis Sally" of Radio Berlin cajoles her G. I. listeners to surrender to the Germans. From their bedrolls, the men loudly express their defiance, but when the company suffers its first casualty the next day, they are stunned into silence. Touched by the young man's death, Ernie writes his first eulogy. Soon after, the company abandons its trucks and takes off on foot, and although he is poorly equipped and untrained, the forty-three-year-old Ernie chooses to follow the soldiers.

During their first major battle at Kasserine Pass, the Germans heavily bombard the company's position with artillery, and when Sgt. Steve Warnicki stumbles into headquarters to announce that the Germans have run over their lines, the company is forced to pull back. The next day, the defeated men march on, and Ernie, having fully won their respect, continues to write about his experiences. Sometime later, after victories in Sicily and elsewhere, Ernie rejoins Company C in a camp in Italy. There, a long-awaited mail call yields a phonograph record of Warnicki's son uttering his first words and an insurance beneficiary form for Private Mew. While Mew, an orphan, contemplates who to name as his beneficiaries, Warnicki determines to locate a phonograph player in the next town. In the ruined village of San Vittorio, the Germans wage a fierce battle against the Americans. Despite the flying bullets, Private Dondaro, a ladies' man from Brooklyn, flirts with and kisses a young local woman in the remains of a café.

Once the Germans have been subdued, the villagers rejoice and embrace the Americans. Warnicki then begins his hunt for a phonograph, but finds only a broken-down model, which he straps to his back and takes with him. After much-needed showers, the men prepare the sleep-deprived Murphy to marry his fiancée Elizabeth, a Red Cross nurse nicknamed "Red." Ernie is asked to give Red away, and the ceremony takes place in a bombed-out church. Although the celebration is cut short by an aerial attack, the newlyweds are escorted to their makeshift "honeymoon" tent, where Murphy promptly falls asleep next to his bride. The next day, as the company marches through the quiet countryside toward Cassino, Walker, who has been promoted to captain, senses danger. Moments later, the company is shelled by German artillery, and Walker deduces that a nearby hilltop monastery is being used by the Germans as an observation post. In their dugout headquarters, the men complain about the Americans' reluctance to violate wartime regulations and bomb the monastery, while Warnicki, fresh from a patrol, tries in vain to play his record on the phonograph. After another patrol, Warnicki and his men return to the dugout and report that Murphy has been killed. His death moves Ernie and the others to tears, and Mew crosses Murphy off his beneficiary list.

Later, as he is composing a story about Murphy, Ernie learns from his fellow correspondents that he has won the Pulitzer Prize for his "G. I. Joe" columns. Ernie is unimpressed by the news and returns to his typing. At Christmas, Ernie and the exhausted men of Company C huddle in their dugout, desperate for distraction and hope. Walker gives orders to find a turkey and some cranberries, but then requests volunteers for another patrol. Although advised by Walker to rest, Warnicki insists on going and captures a German. Sharing a drink and some turkey, Ernie talks privately with Walker, who is writing letters to the parents and wives of men he has lost. Walker reveals that his own wife left him and that he dreads looking into the faces of the replacement troops, many of whom, he knows, will die under his command. Then as dawn breaks, Walker catches Dondaro sneaking into camp after a night out and orders him to dig latrines for the entire company. Dondaro's digging is interrupted by the arrival of a squadron of American planes, which bomb the monastery.

Unfortunately for Company C, the shelling does not eradicate the Germans, but turns the monastery into a rubble fortress from which they can resume their assault. Warnicki once again leads a patrol, but when he returns, fatigued and alone, and finally succeeds in playing the record of his son's voice on the phonograph, he explodes in anger and begins to rave. Walker sadly directs the others to subdue the hysterical sergeant and sends him to the infirmary. Later, Walker commands the company to "slug it out" with the Germans, and the battle rages on. Eventually, Company C is victorious, but as the weary men head toward Rome, they see Dondaro leading a donkey with Walker's slain body slung across its back. Each man stops to bid a silent farewell to the captain, then trudges on. As Ernie later observes, "for those beneath the wooden crosses, there's nothing we can do except perhaps to pause and murmur, 'thanks, pal, thanks.'"

Crew

Robert Aldrich

Assistant Director

Howard Anderson

Miniatures and Special Photographer Effects

Louis Applebaum

Music Director

Leopold Atlas

Screenwriter

Edward G. Boyle

Set Decoration

Hal Boyle

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Paige Cavanaugh

Research

Bert Chervin

Assistant Director

Lt. Col. Edward H. Coffey A.g.f.

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Lester Cowan

Presented By

Lester Cowan

Producer

Chris Cunningham

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Harvey Dwight

Loc Manager

Guy Endore

Screenwriter

Leslie Fenton

Director

Sgt. Jack Foisie

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Louis Forbes

Associate Music Director

David Hall

Associate Producer

Ray Heinz

Production Manager

Lucien Hubbard

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Ralph Huston

Pub

Albrecht Joseph

Film Editor

Fred Kaifer

2nd Camera

Joseph I. Kane

Re-rec and Effects mixer

George Lait

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Robert Landers

Props

Bob Landry

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Arthur Levering

2nd Unit Director

Otho Lovering

Supervising Film Editor

William Mcgarry

Production Manager

Lt. Gen. Lesley J. Mcnair

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Frank Mcwhorter

Sound Recording

Russell Metty

Director of Photography

Lt. Col. Robert Miller 34th Inf. Div

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Lt. Col. Roy A. Murray Jr., 4th Ranger Bn.

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Edward Nelson

Re-rec and Effects mixer

Jack Noyes

Re-rec and Effects mixer

Major Walter Nye 4th Ranger Bn.

Technical Advisor

Harry Redmond

Special Effects

Robert Reuben

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Clete Roberts

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

Ann Ronell

Music Score

Ann Ronell

Composer

Irving Rubine

Executive Assistant

Capt. Charles Shunstrom 1st Ranger Bn.

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Philip Stevenson

Screenwriter

Archie Stout

Director of Photography

James Sullivan

Associate art Director

Tony Thompson

Head grip

Capt. Milton M. Thornton 1st Inf. Div.

Tech guidance for the Army Ground Forces

Vernon L. Walker

Transparency projection shots

William A. Wellman

Company

Bud Westmore

Makeup

Don Whitehead

Tech guidance for the Combat Correspondents

William H. Wilmarth

Music mixer

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Ernie Pyles Story of G I Joe, Here Is Your War, Story of G. I. Joe
Genre
Drama
War
Biography
Release Date
Jul 13, 1945
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lester Cowan Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California-Arizona Maneuver Area, Arizona, United States; Fort Ord, California, United States; Palmdale, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Here Is Your War by Ernie Pyle (New York, 1943) and his book Brave Men (New York, 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,787 or 9,896ft (11 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Song

1946

Best Supporting Actor

1945
Robert Mitchum

Best Writing, Screenplay

1946

Articles

The Story of G.I. Joe


Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle follows the fortunes of Company C of the 18th Infantry during their campaign in Italy. Meeting up with them periodically - at one point, during the climactic battle of Cassino - he observes the stress of combat take its toll on the men's psyches. Among the soldiers he befriends are: Lieutenant Walker, who gradually rises to the rank of Captain; Sergeant Warnicki, who wants nothing more than to find a phonograph to listen to a recording of his son's voice sent from home; and Private Dondaro, who fantasizes constantly about women and even carries a bottle of perfume with him to sniff periodically. The men live continually with the knowledge that not all of them will make it home.

The Story of G. I. Joe (1945) is at once an homage to Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), who captured the American imagination with his gritty story of the lives--and deaths--of ordinary infantrymen, and to the men whose stories he told. Pyle once wrote: "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that war can't be won without." In addition to his regular newspaper column, Pyle published various collections of his writings such as Here is Your War (1943), Brave Men (1944) and the posthumous volume Last Chapter (1946). Born near Dana, Indiana, Pyle wrote for a newspaper in LaPlante, Indiana before becoming a journalist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper the Washington Daily News in 1923. His wartime column was published in newspapers throughout the country. Pyle was shot by a Japanese machine gun on the island of Ie Shima in April of 1945; he was never able to see the finished film, which wasn't released until September 1945. The home of his birth was recently moved to downtown Dana, Indiana and turned into a State Historic Site. For further reading on Pyle, see James Tobin's 1997 biography Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II.

Director William "Wild Bill" Wellman was a World War I combat veteran, having served in the Lafayette Flying Corps of the French Foreign Legion, a team composed entirely of Americans. Before working on this project he had made several films centering on aerial combat, including the hugely popular Wings (1927) and The Legion of the Condemned (1928), which are still considered among the best of the genre. Initially, Wellman refused to direct the project; after the persistent requests of producer Lester Cowan and an invitation to stay with Ernie Pyle in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he finally relented. Wellman describes one of his evenings with Pyle in his memoirs, A Short Time for Insanity (1974): "During the meal, I saw two G.I.'s who had recognized Ernie, though his back was to them. I could tell they were talking about him by their frequent glances in his direction. Unknowingly, this was to be my first baptism of the greatness of this little giant of the G.I.'s. When we were halfway through our dinner, the two G.I.'s got up and left. Just before they passed through the door, they took a last look at Ernie, said a few words to each other. I felt that they wanted to come over and talk to him but thought that perhaps this wasn't the time or the place. Not right in the middle of a man's dinner. I'll never forget the expression on their faces when they looked at Ernie."

Although Robert Mitchum had already appeared in several films, including Clarence Brown's adaptation of the William Saroyan novel The Human Comedy (1943) and the war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), it is this film which established him as a star. Wellman recalls: "I very foolishly made the test of one of the most important scenes in the picture, the one where he was the tired officer writing letters to the mothers of kids who'd been killed. It was my big mistake. Really, for I saw something so wonderful, so completely compelling, that I was mad at myself for not having built the set before so that I could have made the test the actual scene that came out in the picture." For his portrayal of Walker, Mitchum was nominated for an Academy Award. Burgess Meredith was also praised for his performance as Ernie Pyle, who had selected him personally for the role. Serving as an Army captain at the time, Meredith was put on "inactive status" so he could participate in the film. Another standout is Freddie Steele, who portrays Sergeant Warnicki in the most substantial role of his career. The 1937 World Middleweight Boxing Champion, Steele appeared as himself in the boxing drama The Pittsburgh Kid (1941) and subsequently received a number of small parts in films, including the crime drama Call Northside 777 (1948). The cinematographer Russell Metty contributes much to the stark look of the film, from the sharp close-ups of the grimy faces of soldiers to the expressionistically photographed ruins of a church. Besides winning an Academy Award for his work in Spartacus (1960), he is known for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and the series of films he photographed for Douglas Sirk in the 1950s such as Written on the Wind (1956). This was his only collaboration with Wellman.

Although the film was shot primarily in the rocky deserts of Southern California and at the Selznick Studios, where the ruins of an Italian town were meticulously recreated, the producer Lester Cowan and director William Wellman went to great lengths to give the film the feeling of authenticity, even using many of the G.I.'s who actually participated in the battles depicted in the film. The result was considered the most authentic war film of the era. According to Wellman biographer Frank T. Thompson, "The War Department assigned 150 veterans of the Italian Campaign who were about to be shipped out to the Pacific. The soldiers were on a six-week "working leave" to do the film. They were given frequent periods of liberty, but, in effect, they were in regular training throughout the duration of the shooting schedule."

Master raconteur Wellman describes the experience of working with the G.I.'s during the shoot: "There was one thing I will always remember about them. When they weren't working, you could always find them behind the sets throwing knives. We had built a half-ruined Italian village. A big portion of the picture was shot there. It was a replica of the many real towns these kids had taken, defended, and lost. When we shot scenes in the different streets, in front of cafes, municipal buildings, church, or whatever, they went about their business in a deadly sort of way. There was no kidding, very little laughter, and a great deal of silence. Between shots, they would sit down or lean against a wall, just look around, say nothing; but their expressions spoke volumes; then, when they were excused, they would disappear behind the set and start throwing knives again."

"I don't know how to describe the sound of a knife being thrown at a log or a set two-by-four or a telephone pole, but that's what you heard, until I was ready to take a scene and the quiet whistle blew. Then it stopped, and it became strangely silent until the scene-finished whistle blew, and it started again, whiiiit-thud, whiiit-thud, day in and day out. I used to hear this stygian sound at night in my sleep. It wasn't the sound alone that got me; it was the constancy." Many of the G.I.s who appeared in the film were subsequently shipped out to the Pacific, only to lose their lives in Okinawa. Wellman sums up: "We had a lot of laughs together, a lot of work, a lot of drinks, and I got them a little extra dough. It all seems so futile now. It's the one picture of mine that I refuse to look at."

The Story of G.I. Joe was enthusiastically received upon its release. General Dwight D. Eisenhower went so far as to call it "the greatest war picture I've ever seen" and Wellman himself regarded it as the finest work of his career. James Agee characterized the film as a "tragic and eternal work of art," emphasizing the film's subtlety of conception: "With a slight shift of time and scene, men whose faces have become familiar simply aren't around any more. The fact is not commented on or in any way pointed; their absence merely creates its gradual vacuum and realization in the pit of the stomach. Things which seem at first tiresome, then to have become too much of a running gag, like the lascivious tongue-clacking of the professional stallion among the soldiers (Wally Cassell) or the Sergeant's continual effort to play the record of his son's voice, are allowed to run their risks without tip-off or apology. In the course of many repetitions they take on full obsessional power and do as much as anything could do to communicate the terrific weight of time, fatigue, and half-craziness which the picture is trying so successfully to make you live through." While recent World War II films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998) may go further in depicting the visceral horrors of war, the artistic achievement of The Story of G.I. Joe is arguably more lasting: it portrays the camaraderie, courage and underlying fear of the ordinary fighting man without once resorting to easy sentimentality.

Producer: Lester Cowan
Director: William A. Wellman
Screenplay: Leopold Atlas, Guy Endore and Philip Stevenson, based on the writings of Ernie Pyle
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Editing: Albrecht Joseph
Music: Ann Ronell
Art Director: James Sullivan
Principal Cast: Burgess Meredith (Ernie Pyle), Robert Mitchum (Lt. Walker), Freddie Steele (Sgt. Warnicki), Wally Cassell (Pvt. Dondaro), Jimmy Lloyd (Pvt. Spencer), Jack Reilly (Pvt. Murphy), Bill Murphy (Pvt. Mew), and Combat Veterans of the Campaigns in Africa, Sicily and Italy.
BW-109m.

By James Steffen
The Story Of G.i. Joe

The Story of G.I. Joe

Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle follows the fortunes of Company C of the 18th Infantry during their campaign in Italy. Meeting up with them periodically - at one point, during the climactic battle of Cassino - he observes the stress of combat take its toll on the men's psyches. Among the soldiers he befriends are: Lieutenant Walker, who gradually rises to the rank of Captain; Sergeant Warnicki, who wants nothing more than to find a phonograph to listen to a recording of his son's voice sent from home; and Private Dondaro, who fantasizes constantly about women and even carries a bottle of perfume with him to sniff periodically. The men live continually with the knowledge that not all of them will make it home. The Story of G. I. Joe (1945) is at once an homage to Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), who captured the American imagination with his gritty story of the lives--and deaths--of ordinary infantrymen, and to the men whose stories he told. Pyle once wrote: "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that war can't be won without." In addition to his regular newspaper column, Pyle published various collections of his writings such as Here is Your War (1943), Brave Men (1944) and the posthumous volume Last Chapter (1946). Born near Dana, Indiana, Pyle wrote for a newspaper in LaPlante, Indiana before becoming a journalist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper the Washington Daily News in 1923. His wartime column was published in newspapers throughout the country. Pyle was shot by a Japanese machine gun on the island of Ie Shima in April of 1945; he was never able to see the finished film, which wasn't released until September 1945. The home of his birth was recently moved to downtown Dana, Indiana and turned into a State Historic Site. For further reading on Pyle, see James Tobin's 1997 biography Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II. Director William "Wild Bill" Wellman was a World War I combat veteran, having served in the Lafayette Flying Corps of the French Foreign Legion, a team composed entirely of Americans. Before working on this project he had made several films centering on aerial combat, including the hugely popular Wings (1927) and The Legion of the Condemned (1928), which are still considered among the best of the genre. Initially, Wellman refused to direct the project; after the persistent requests of producer Lester Cowan and an invitation to stay with Ernie Pyle in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he finally relented. Wellman describes one of his evenings with Pyle in his memoirs, A Short Time for Insanity (1974): "During the meal, I saw two G.I.'s who had recognized Ernie, though his back was to them. I could tell they were talking about him by their frequent glances in his direction. Unknowingly, this was to be my first baptism of the greatness of this little giant of the G.I.'s. When we were halfway through our dinner, the two G.I.'s got up and left. Just before they passed through the door, they took a last look at Ernie, said a few words to each other. I felt that they wanted to come over and talk to him but thought that perhaps this wasn't the time or the place. Not right in the middle of a man's dinner. I'll never forget the expression on their faces when they looked at Ernie." Although Robert Mitchum had already appeared in several films, including Clarence Brown's adaptation of the William Saroyan novel The Human Comedy (1943) and the war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), it is this film which established him as a star. Wellman recalls: "I very foolishly made the test of one of the most important scenes in the picture, the one where he was the tired officer writing letters to the mothers of kids who'd been killed. It was my big mistake. Really, for I saw something so wonderful, so completely compelling, that I was mad at myself for not having built the set before so that I could have made the test the actual scene that came out in the picture." For his portrayal of Walker, Mitchum was nominated for an Academy Award. Burgess Meredith was also praised for his performance as Ernie Pyle, who had selected him personally for the role. Serving as an Army captain at the time, Meredith was put on "inactive status" so he could participate in the film. Another standout is Freddie Steele, who portrays Sergeant Warnicki in the most substantial role of his career. The 1937 World Middleweight Boxing Champion, Steele appeared as himself in the boxing drama The Pittsburgh Kid (1941) and subsequently received a number of small parts in films, including the crime drama Call Northside 777 (1948). The cinematographer Russell Metty contributes much to the stark look of the film, from the sharp close-ups of the grimy faces of soldiers to the expressionistically photographed ruins of a church. Besides winning an Academy Award for his work in Spartacus (1960), he is known for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and the series of films he photographed for Douglas Sirk in the 1950s such as Written on the Wind (1956). This was his only collaboration with Wellman. Although the film was shot primarily in the rocky deserts of Southern California and at the Selznick Studios, where the ruins of an Italian town were meticulously recreated, the producer Lester Cowan and director William Wellman went to great lengths to give the film the feeling of authenticity, even using many of the G.I.'s who actually participated in the battles depicted in the film. The result was considered the most authentic war film of the era. According to Wellman biographer Frank T. Thompson, "The War Department assigned 150 veterans of the Italian Campaign who were about to be shipped out to the Pacific. The soldiers were on a six-week "working leave" to do the film. They were given frequent periods of liberty, but, in effect, they were in regular training throughout the duration of the shooting schedule." Master raconteur Wellman describes the experience of working with the G.I.'s during the shoot: "There was one thing I will always remember about them. When they weren't working, you could always find them behind the sets throwing knives. We had built a half-ruined Italian village. A big portion of the picture was shot there. It was a replica of the many real towns these kids had taken, defended, and lost. When we shot scenes in the different streets, in front of cafes, municipal buildings, church, or whatever, they went about their business in a deadly sort of way. There was no kidding, very little laughter, and a great deal of silence. Between shots, they would sit down or lean against a wall, just look around, say nothing; but their expressions spoke volumes; then, when they were excused, they would disappear behind the set and start throwing knives again." "I don't know how to describe the sound of a knife being thrown at a log or a set two-by-four or a telephone pole, but that's what you heard, until I was ready to take a scene and the quiet whistle blew. Then it stopped, and it became strangely silent until the scene-finished whistle blew, and it started again, whiiiit-thud, whiiit-thud, day in and day out. I used to hear this stygian sound at night in my sleep. It wasn't the sound alone that got me; it was the constancy." Many of the G.I.s who appeared in the film were subsequently shipped out to the Pacific, only to lose their lives in Okinawa. Wellman sums up: "We had a lot of laughs together, a lot of work, a lot of drinks, and I got them a little extra dough. It all seems so futile now. It's the one picture of mine that I refuse to look at." The Story of G.I. Joe was enthusiastically received upon its release. General Dwight D. Eisenhower went so far as to call it "the greatest war picture I've ever seen" and Wellman himself regarded it as the finest work of his career. James Agee characterized the film as a "tragic and eternal work of art," emphasizing the film's subtlety of conception: "With a slight shift of time and scene, men whose faces have become familiar simply aren't around any more. The fact is not commented on or in any way pointed; their absence merely creates its gradual vacuum and realization in the pit of the stomach. Things which seem at first tiresome, then to have become too much of a running gag, like the lascivious tongue-clacking of the professional stallion among the soldiers (Wally Cassell) or the Sergeant's continual effort to play the record of his son's voice, are allowed to run their risks without tip-off or apology. In the course of many repetitions they take on full obsessional power and do as much as anything could do to communicate the terrific weight of time, fatigue, and half-craziness which the picture is trying so successfully to make you live through." While recent World War II films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998) may go further in depicting the visceral horrors of war, the artistic achievement of The Story of G.I. Joe is arguably more lasting: it portrays the camaraderie, courage and underlying fear of the ordinary fighting man without once resorting to easy sentimentality. Producer: Lester Cowan Director: William A. Wellman Screenplay: Leopold Atlas, Guy Endore and Philip Stevenson, based on the writings of Ernie Pyle Cinematography: Russell Metty Editing: Albrecht Joseph Music: Ann Ronell Art Director: James Sullivan Principal Cast: Burgess Meredith (Ernie Pyle), Robert Mitchum (Lt. Walker), Freddie Steele (Sgt. Warnicki), Wally Cassell (Pvt. Dondaro), Jimmy Lloyd (Pvt. Spencer), Jack Reilly (Pvt. Murphy), Bill Murphy (Pvt. Mew), and Combat Veterans of the Campaigns in Africa, Sicily and Italy. BW-109m. By James Steffen

Press - The Story of G.I. Joe


One of the Great World War II Films Is Finally Available Again - THE STORY OF G.I. JOE

Missing in action from television showings or theatrical screenings for over 20 years, The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), starring Burgess Meredith as war correspondent Ernie Pyle, is finally available on DVD from Image Entertainment. The film will also have its world television premiere on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, May 24 at 8:00 pm ET with an encore showing during our Memorial Day war marathon at 6:00 pm ET on Monday, May 27.

The Story of G. I. Joe, directed by William Wellman, is at once an homage to Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), who captured the American imagination with his gritty story of the lives--and deaths--of ordinary infantrymen, and to the men whose stories he told. Pyle once wrote: "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that war can't be won without." In addition to his regular newspaper column, Pyle published various collections of his writings such as Here is Your War (1943), Brave Men (1944) and the posthumous volume Last Chapter (1946). Born near Dana, Indiana, Pyle wrote for a newspaper in LaPlante, Indiana before becoming a journalist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper the Washington Daily News in 1923. His wartime column was published in newspapers throughout the country. Pyle was shot by a Japanese machine gun on the island of Ie Shima in April of 1945; he was never able to see the finished film, which wasn't released until September 1945.

The Image DVD of The Story of G. I. Joe features a fine transfer of the original film (though there is some minor print damage in places) and includes a newsreel clip of Pyle talking with some soldiers and one of his newspaper columns which illustrates his unpretentious reporting style. According to the DVD liner notes by James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II, critics were extremely enthusiastic about Wellman's film when it was first released, 'calling G.I. JOE "a living human document high above any niche ever attained by a 'war picture' (The Washington Post and "painstakingly realistic" (Newsweek). Time's reviewer called it "far and away the least glamorous war picture ever made...a movie without a single false note. It is not 'entertainment' in the usual sense, but General Eisenhower called it 'the greatest war picture I've ever seen."

Initially, Wellman refused to direct the project; after the persistent requests of producer Lester Cowan and an invitation to stay with Ernie Pyle in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he finally relented. Wellman describes one of his evenings with Pyle in his memoirs, A Short Time for Insanity (1974): "During the meal, I saw two G.I.'s who had recognized Ernie, though his back was to them. I could tell they were talking about him by their frequent glances in his direction. Unknowingly, this was to be my first baptism of the greatness of this little giant of the G.I.'s. When we were halfway through our dinner, the two G.I.'s got up and left. Just before they passed through the door, they took a last look at Ernie, said a few words to each other. I felt that they wanted to come over and talk to him but thought that perhaps this wasn't the time or the place. Not right in the middle of a man's dinner. I'll never forget the expression on their faces when they looked at Ernie."

Although Robert Mitchum had already appeared in several films, including Clarence Brown's adaptation of the William Saroyan novel The Human Comedy (1943) and the war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), it is this film which established him as a star. For his portrayal of Walker, Mitchum was nominated for an Academy Award. Burgess Meredith was also praised for his performance as Ernie Pyle, who had selected him personally for the role. Serving as an Army captain at the time, Meredith was put on "inactive status" so he could participate in the film. Another standout is Freddie Steele, who portrays Sergeant Warnicki in the most substantial role of his career. The cinematographer Russell Metty contributes much to the stark look of the film, from the sharp close-ups of the grimy faces of soldiers to the expressionistically photographed ruins of a church. Besides winning an Academy Award for his work in Spartacus (1960), he is known for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and the series of films he photographed for Douglas Sirk in the 1950s such as Written on the Wind (1956). This was his only collaboration with Wellman.

Although the film was shot primarily in the rocky deserts of Southern California and at the Selznick Studios, where the ruins of an Italian town were meticulously recreated, the producer Lester Cowan and director William Wellman went to great lengths to give the film the feeling of authenticity, even using many of the G.I.'s who actually participated in the battles depicted in the film. The result was considered the most authentic war film of the era. According to Wellman biographer Frank T. Thompson, "The War Department assigned 150 veterans of the Italian Campaign who were about to be shipped out to the Pacific. The soldiers were on a six-week "working leave" to do the film. They were given frequent periods of liberty, but, in effect, they were in regular training throughout the duration of the shooting schedule."

For more information about the DVD of The Story of G.I. Joe, visit Image Entertainment. For more information about the TCM premiere of the film, visit TCM's This Month page on May 1st.

By Jeff Stafford and James Steffen

Press - The Story of G.I. Joe

One of the Great World War II Films Is Finally Available Again - THE STORY OF G.I. JOE Missing in action from television showings or theatrical screenings for over 20 years, The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), starring Burgess Meredith as war correspondent Ernie Pyle, is finally available on DVD from Image Entertainment. The film will also have its world television premiere on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, May 24 at 8:00 pm ET with an encore showing during our Memorial Day war marathon at 6:00 pm ET on Monday, May 27. The Story of G. I. Joe, directed by William Wellman, is at once an homage to Ernie Pyle (1900-1945), who captured the American imagination with his gritty story of the lives--and deaths--of ordinary infantrymen, and to the men whose stories he told. Pyle once wrote: "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that war can't be won without." In addition to his regular newspaper column, Pyle published various collections of his writings such as Here is Your War (1943), Brave Men (1944) and the posthumous volume Last Chapter (1946). Born near Dana, Indiana, Pyle wrote for a newspaper in LaPlante, Indiana before becoming a journalist for the Scripps-Howard newspaper the Washington Daily News in 1923. His wartime column was published in newspapers throughout the country. Pyle was shot by a Japanese machine gun on the island of Ie Shima in April of 1945; he was never able to see the finished film, which wasn't released until September 1945. The Image DVD of The Story of G. I. Joe features a fine transfer of the original film (though there is some minor print damage in places) and includes a newsreel clip of Pyle talking with some soldiers and one of his newspaper columns which illustrates his unpretentious reporting style. According to the DVD liner notes by James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II, critics were extremely enthusiastic about Wellman's film when it was first released, 'calling G.I. JOE "a living human document high above any niche ever attained by a 'war picture' (The Washington Post and "painstakingly realistic" (Newsweek). Time's reviewer called it "far and away the least glamorous war picture ever made...a movie without a single false note. It is not 'entertainment' in the usual sense, but General Eisenhower called it 'the greatest war picture I've ever seen." Initially, Wellman refused to direct the project; after the persistent requests of producer Lester Cowan and an invitation to stay with Ernie Pyle in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he finally relented. Wellman describes one of his evenings with Pyle in his memoirs, A Short Time for Insanity (1974): "During the meal, I saw two G.I.'s who had recognized Ernie, though his back was to them. I could tell they were talking about him by their frequent glances in his direction. Unknowingly, this was to be my first baptism of the greatness of this little giant of the G.I.'s. When we were halfway through our dinner, the two G.I.'s got up and left. Just before they passed through the door, they took a last look at Ernie, said a few words to each other. I felt that they wanted to come over and talk to him but thought that perhaps this wasn't the time or the place. Not right in the middle of a man's dinner. I'll never forget the expression on their faces when they looked at Ernie." Although Robert Mitchum had already appeared in several films, including Clarence Brown's adaptation of the William Saroyan novel The Human Comedy (1943) and the war film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), it is this film which established him as a star. For his portrayal of Walker, Mitchum was nominated for an Academy Award. Burgess Meredith was also praised for his performance as Ernie Pyle, who had selected him personally for the role. Serving as an Army captain at the time, Meredith was put on "inactive status" so he could participate in the film. Another standout is Freddie Steele, who portrays Sergeant Warnicki in the most substantial role of his career. The cinematographer Russell Metty contributes much to the stark look of the film, from the sharp close-ups of the grimy faces of soldiers to the expressionistically photographed ruins of a church. Besides winning an Academy Award for his work in Spartacus (1960), he is known for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and the series of films he photographed for Douglas Sirk in the 1950s such as Written on the Wind (1956). This was his only collaboration with Wellman. Although the film was shot primarily in the rocky deserts of Southern California and at the Selznick Studios, where the ruins of an Italian town were meticulously recreated, the producer Lester Cowan and director William Wellman went to great lengths to give the film the feeling of authenticity, even using many of the G.I.'s who actually participated in the battles depicted in the film. The result was considered the most authentic war film of the era. According to Wellman biographer Frank T. Thompson, "The War Department assigned 150 veterans of the Italian Campaign who were about to be shipped out to the Pacific. The soldiers were on a six-week "working leave" to do the film. They were given frequent periods of liberty, but, in effect, they were in regular training throughout the duration of the shooting schedule." For more information about the DVD of The Story of G.I. Joe, visit Image Entertainment. For more information about the TCM premiere of the film, visit TCM's This Month page on May 1st. By Jeff Stafford and James Steffen

Quotes

Look, this is a modern war, ain't it? And I'm a modern guy, and the modern age is up in the air, not down here.
- Pvt. Robert 'Wingless' Murphy
Hey Pop, why wasn't you born a beautiful dame? Or even an ugly one?
- Pvt. Dondaro
Tonight, boy, tonight I dream in Technicolor.
- Pvt. Dondaro
Hey Dondaro, what town did we take today?
- Pvt. Robert 'Wingless' Murphy
San Raviollio.
- Pvt. Dondaro
Didn't we take that yesterday?
- Pvt. Robert 'Wingless' Murphy
No, that was San Something Else-io.
- Pvt. Dondaro
The new kids that come up, that's what gets you. The new ones, some of them have just got a little fuzz on their faces. They don't know what its all about. Scared to death. You know, Ernie, I know it ain't my fault that they get killed, but it makes me feel like a murderer. I hate to look at 'em, the new kids.
- Capt.Bill Walker
(Voice-over): For those beneath the wooden crosses, there is nothing we can do, except perhaps to pause and murmur, "Thanks pal, thanks."
- Ernie Pyle

Trivia

The real Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese gunfire while this film was in production.

The extras in the film were real American G.I.s, in the process of being transferred from the war in Europe to the Pacific. Many of them were killed in the fighting on Okinawa, the same battle in which Ernie Pyle was killed, never having seen the movie they appeared in.

"Wild Bill" Wellman, the film's director, was a fighter pilot in World War I, and hated the infantry, and he therefore had no interest in making a film about them. Lester Cowan, the producer, tried several times to convince Wellman to direct the film, including showing up uninvited at Christmas with gifts for Wellman's children. Wellman finally agreed to take the job only after meeting and spending several days with Ernie Pyle at Pyle's home in New Mexico, where he saw how much former infantrymen revered him.

Notes

The working titles of this film were Here Is Your War and Story of G. I. Joe. The two title cards on the viewed print read: "Ernie Pyle's Story of/G. I. Joe." Although modern sources and some contemporary sources refer to the film's title as The Story of G. I. Joe, copyright records list it officially as G. I. Joe. The name "G. I. Joe," which became synonymous with American soldiers during World War II, is attributed to cartoonist Dave Breger. In 1942, after learning that the title of his semi-autobiographical cartoon "Private Breger" was under copyright to The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine in which it had been appearing since 1941, Breger changed the strip's name to "G. I. Joe," so that two Armed Forces publications, Yank magazine and the daily Stars and Stripes, could run it for the duration of the war. "G. I." is an abbreviation for "government issue" and refers to supplies distributed by the government. Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair's onscreen technical guidance credit is preceded by the words "Grateful acknowledgement." McNair, who, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, "first conceived of the film," died while fighting in France in August 1944. Voice-over narration, spoken by Burgess Meredith as "Ernie Pyle," is heard intermittently throughout the picture.
       No specific literary source is mentioned in the onscreen credits, but according to a November 1943 War Department record contained at NARS, as well as director William A. Wellman's autobiography, the picture was based on Pyle's book Here Is Your War, a chronicle of the North African campaign. Although not mentioned in any contemporary sources, Pyle's 1944 book Brave Men, which begins in June 1943 and details Pyle's experiences in Italy and France, also was a source for the film.
       Ernie Pyle was born in 1900 in Dana, IN, studied journalism at Indiana University and began his writing career as a reporter for the La Porte Herald. He later worked for The Washington News, The New York World Telegram and The New York Post. In 1935, he became a roving reporter for the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers and, with his wife, traveled throughout the Western Hemisphere writing human interest stories. At the outbreak of World War II, he was sent to London to report on the German bombardment of Britain. Pyle accompanied American troops during the invasions of North Africa and Italy and the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944, and wrote simple, moving pieces about life "in the trenches." As depicted in the film, Pyle was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in May 1944. He also won the Raymond Clapper Memorial award for distinguished war correspondence. On April 18, 1945, Pyle was killed by machine-gun fire during a battle on the Pacific Island of Ie Shima. He never saw the completed film.
       War Department records add the following information about the production: Independent producer Lester Cowan first approached the Army about making a "ground forces" picture in September 1943. According to a September 13, 1943 letter to Col. Curtis Mitchell, Director, Pictorial Branch, Dept. of Public Relations of the U.S. Army, Cowan had purchased an "unfinished play" by Clifford Odets on the subject and intended to use it as the "dramatic foundation" of the film. Cowan proposed to Mitchell that following an intensive research period, he would assign "someone to develop a digest from the best material written about our boys in action." The story was to cover training and "as much human interest material as can be secured from soldiers who have returned...from action at the fronts." According to a September 22, 1943 memorandum from Mitchell to Allyn Butterfield, chief of Pictorial Branch's feature film section, playwright Arthur Miller, who is described in memos as a "scenario writer" for Lester Cowan Productions, requested permission to visit military installations to "acquire background data for an approved War Department motion picture script." Miller was also announced as an "adapter" in a January 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item. The contribution of Odets and Miller to the final film, if any, has not been determined. In mid-November 1943, Cowan first submitted an outline, "based upon the material in Ernie Pyle's book, 'Here Is Your War,'" to Col. Falkner Heard of the Army Ground Forces.
       Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts note the following about the production: The first director to be announced was Richard Rosson, who reportedly met with Cowan and Pyle in New York, and the War Department in Washington, D.C. Lucien Hubbard, who is credited onscreen for technical guidance, was announced as associate producer in February 1944. In mid-March 1944, production on the film began on location at the California-Arizona Maneuver Area of the Army in the desert near Yuma, AZ. Leslie Fenton, who had directed Cowan's previous picture Tomorrow the World! (see below entry,) was the film's director at that time, and Archie Stout was the cinematographer. Other locations mentioned as filming sites were Camp Carson near Colorado Springs, CO, where sets depicting the bombing of the Monte Cassino monastery were to be built, and Camp Cooke in central California. It is not known, however, if any scenes were actually filmed in these locations.
       In early May 1944, production shut down so that a new ending could be written to "accommodate changes in the war." Although Cowan expected the delay to last only thirty days, he encountered many difficulties in revising the screenplay. In a June 28, 1944 letter to Col. Mitchell, Cowan wrote: "It is almost impossible to conceive a picture of Pyle that will please everyone, as he has apparently become all things to all men." In addition to changes in the script, Cowan had lined up locations comparable to the French Channel coast, Norway, Yugoslavia and Holland, in anticipation of an Allied invasion. By late August 1944, as the end of the European war appeared imminent, Cowan arranged with film news services to shoot victory celebrations in various American cities. War Department records indicate that Cowan also considered filming a new ending in April 1945 that would include Pyle's death. None of these proposed scenes were included in the final film, however.
       In mid-August 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that a new director would be assigned to the project as Fenton had "other commitments." Fenton directed approximately six weeks worth of shooting, all of which consisted of battle scenes and other location footage. It has not been determined how much of Fenton's footage was included in the final film. In mid-September 1944, Howard Hawks was announced as Cowan's choice as replacement director. John Huston, who was then a major in the Army and had directed some war-related documentaries, was also under consideration as director at that time, according to War Department records.
       Wellman, who was well-known for his hard-hitting aviation pictures, was hired as director in September 1944. In his autobiography, Wellman recalled that he initially turned down the job because of resentment he felt toward infantrymen, who, he believed, unfairly belittled fliers. Pyle invited Wellman to his home in Albuquerque and, after several days of discussion, some with Cowan, persuaded him to take the assignment. According to Wellman's autobiography, the director realized "the great need for such a picture and what it would mean to the thousands of kids that were fighting." Wellman noted that three weeks after he had signed on to the project, "Ernie came to Hollywood. The script of G. I. Joe had been completed and now the polishing job, and Ernie was to be the shine boy. We worked together day after day, and it gradually became a great shooting script." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Cowan submitted the shooting script to the military for approval in late September 1944.
       Prior to Wellman's involvement in the project, Cowan had signed Gary Cooper to portray Pyle in the film. When Cooper bowed out to join a USO tour, he began negotiations with Fred MacMurray. Many other actors and non-professionals then were mentioned for the part, including Fred Astaire, Cowan's reported first choice, James Gleason, Walter Brennan, Barry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh radio sports commentator Albert Kennedy "Rosey" Rosewell and Pyle look-alike John M. Waldeck, a streetcar conductor nominated by 1,200 St. Louisans. Burgess Meredith, who had been announced as a technical advisor in June 1944 along with Huston, was not cast until late October 1944. According to War Department records, Meredith was Pyle's choice for the role. A captain in the Army, Meredith was placed on inactive status during production. War Department records indicate that the Army offered to grant permission for Meredith's participation on condition that Cowan turn all profits from the picture over to the Army Emergency Relief organization. It has not been determined if, in fact, Cowan did so.
       Cowan's company borrowed Robert Mitchum from RKO for the production. "Lt. Walker" was Mitchum's first noteworthy role and garnered him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Modern sources state that because of the War Department's participation in the making of the film, the Army allowed Mitchum, who had been drafted, to use time spent on the production toward the completion of his military service. On April 25, 1945, the Army also granted Mitchum a one-day release from basic training so that he could shoot retakes, according to modern sources. In addition to Mitchum's performance, reviewers greatly praised the acting of Freddie Steele, a former boxer, in the role of "Warnicki." Dorothy Coonan, who plays "Red" in the film, was Wellman's wife; G. I. Joe marked her first movie role after a twelve-year hiatus from the screen. A March 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Cowan was seeking Richard Conte for a role, but he did not appear in the final film.
       Other actors listed in news items as cast members were Jack Lee, Bob Merrill, Tom Holland, Michael Browne, Sgt. Jack Gross, Cpl. Harry Olsen, John Shay, Gene Garrick, Joe Haworth and Archie Twitchell. Cpl. James D. Slaton, the "most-decorated Yank" of the war to that time, was to play himself in the picture. According to War Department records, Capt. Milton M. Thornton and Capt. Charles Shunstrom, who are credited onscreen with technical guidance, also were to play themselves in the picture. The appearance of these men in the final film has not been confirmed, however. Eugene Borden, Louise Laureau and Louise Kerbrat were cast as a "French family," but no scenes set in France were included in the final film. On May 24, 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that production on the picture would resume for one day, in order to record the presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Lt. Lennie Bessman. Bessman, who won the medal for escaping from a German prison camp, was to play himself in the film, but the presentation was not included in the final film, and Bessman's appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a September 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item, Cowan wanted Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Carole Landis and Frances Langford to appear in cameos in the film; Hope's voice is heard during the Christmas radio broadcast scene, but none of the other stars are seen or heard.
       As noted in onscreen credits, many real-life soldiers appeared in the picture. According to War Department records, the soldiers remained on active duty during the six-week shooting schedule and were stationed at a temporary Army installation called Camp Baldwin in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. When they were not being used on the picture, the men were required to maintain a "regular training program" so that they would "make the best possible appearance...both in physical condition and in military techniques." In his autobiography, Wellman commented that all of the soldiers, who had been through "the African campaign, the Tunisian business, Sicily, Rome," were shipped to the South Pacific after the film's completion and "none of them came home." Modern sources add George Chandler (Soldier) to the cast.
       In addition to the credited technical advisors, many correspondents were announced in Hollywood Reporter as advisors and/or players, including Michael Chinigo, Dan De Luca, Wes Gallagher, Edward Kennedy, Clark Lee, Bob Neville, Noland Norgaard, Reynold Packard, Fred Painter, Quentin Reynolds, Inez Robb, John Steinbeck, Jack Thompson, Tom Treanor, Richard Tregaskis and Graham Hovey. Pulitzer Prize winner De Luca was to appear in the picture receiving his award alongside Pyle, and George Lait, who is credited onscreen as an advisor, also was to portray himself. Bob Landry of Life magazine is the only correspondent besides Pyle who has been identified as appearing in the picture. Clark Lee reportedly replaced Bob Cunningham as technical advisor, but was himself replaced, after leaving on assignment for the South Pacific. Of those three men, only Cunningham, who is referred to in War Dept. records as Pyle's "closest correspondent friend," received an onscreen technical guidance credit, however.
       Sgts. Kenny Thorpe and George Yahlem, Cpl. Enrico Dorazzio, Pfc. Clarence Cohen and Pvt. Edward Lawson were also announced as technical advisors. Capt. Frederick D. Greist was hired as technical advisor for front line and hospital scenes. The participation of these journalists and soldiers in the final film has not been confirmed. Researcher Paige Cavanaugh was Pyle's closest friend and provided the production with scrapbooks on Pyle, according to War Dept. records. Hollywood Reporter news items also reported that Cowan had conferred with Lee Miller, the managing editor of the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance and Pyle's mentor, on the production, and with Cranston Williams, the general manager of the American Newspaper Publishers' Association.
       When production resumed on November 15, 1944, the picture had a two-million dollar budget. Although a Hollywood Reporter news item announced that "no stock footage or newsreel clips" were to be used, the New York Times review claimed that "authentic Signal Corps footage of the North African and Italian campaigns" was included in the picture. According to modern sources, G. I. Joe used footage from John Huston's 1945 documentary San Pietro . Cowan constructed a detailed bombed-out Italian village set for some scenes. Location filming took place in Palmdale and Fort Ord, CA. War Department records indicate that Victorville, CA, also was a planned location, but it is not known if any scenes were shot there. Although a December 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Cowan was negotiating with Frank Loesser for exclusive rights to his hit song "What Do We Do in the Infantry?" the song was not used in the final picture. In April 1944, Jack Diamond was announced as the film's director of publicity, but he apparently was replaced by Ralph Huston in late August 1944. Prior to its domestic release, Cowan arranged for the picture to be shown overseas to the armed forces. Although the Hollywood Reporter review lists a running time of 147 minutes, and the Daily Variety review lists it as 120 minutes, all other sources from the same period list a length of approximately 109 minutes.
       G. I. Joe is considered by many critics to be one of the best non-documentary war films ever made. The New York Times reviewer described the film as a "hard-hitting, penetrating drama of the footslogging soldier," an "eloquent motion picture." The Daily Variety reviewer wrote: "The picture is screened with unequivocal realism. There is no hokum. No flag waving. No synthetic sentimentality. No bombast." Wellman regarded the picture as his best, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower called it "the greatest war picture I've ever seen." James Agee wrote in The Nation: "Coming as it does out of a world in which even the best work is nearly always compromised, and into a world which is generally assumed to dread honesty and courage and to despise artistic integrity, it is an act of heroism..." In addition to Mitchum's nomination, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). "Linda" was nominated as Best Song. (Although modern sources list Jack Lawrence as Ann Ronell's co-writer on the song, only Ronell was nominated.) The film made the New York Times "ten best" list of 1945. On September 24, 1970, Cowan re-issued the picture in Texas, in honor of the late Capt. Henry Waskow, the Army commander who reportedly was the inspiration for Mitchum's character.