Love & War

James Whitmore in Battle Cry (1955)

I can dream up the perfect pitch for when "Battle Cry" was originally released: "Guys you wanna take your girl to the flicks for a date but want to watch a war movie then come see Battle Cry as it has war for you and romance for her." Now that combination of war and romance works or should I say can work as whilst there have been some great movies which combine the two "Battle Cry" is only an average movie which suffers from a split personality. On one level it is stereotypical serving up a collection of stereotypes it wants us to follow but then at times it veers from the obvious path of just trying to be entertaining to showing some sort of depth when it comes to war and how it affects people. It ends up making "Battle Cry" a movie which is unsure what it is trying to achieve although still manages to end up mostly entertaining.

Now I mentioned the stereotypes and within the first 5 minutes we are introduced to the men we are going to follow from an all American Joe to a bookworm who of course wears glasses. We are also introduced to the romantic side of the movie as we meet Danny who is saying goodbye to his girl at the train station before he heads to training and on kissing her says something about that must make us engaged. It is light hearted stuff as is the portrayal of the training which the men go through where of course they have a tough drill sergeant who is mocked behind his back. Authenticity is definitely not what "Battle Cry" is about which is apparent when having had training covered in just a few minutes we then get a bar room brawl.

Tab Hunter and Dorothy Malone in Battle Cry (1955)

The thing is that after the set up where we meet various characters we then get their individual romantic stories from Danny finding it tough and falling for a married woman to Andy who falls for a widow. It is this side which would have appealed to young men's dates at the time as it has a soap opera style which if that is your sort of thing makes "Battle Cry" fun. But for those who watched purely off of the movies title it is going to be disappointing as whilst there is the camaraderie of the men the personal dramas will not be what some expect. Oh there is action, as I said there is a bar room brawl and eventually there is some war action but this is not a war movie in the obvious sense of the word.

Despite this and despite the lack of authenticity "Battle Cry" is kind of entertaining with enjoyable performances from a group of actors who regularly cropped up in war movies. Tab Hunter, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore and Van Heflin all deliver characters which are easy to like and the women which include Dorothy Malone, Mona Freeman and Nancy Olson are all attractive.

What this alll boils down to is that despite its title "Battle Cry" is a soft war movie, a movie about the men and their women rather than the action. It isn't what I would call an authentic war movie but it has a good cast and a nice energy which means if you yearn for something fun and melo-dramatic it will entertain although at 149 minutes will feel drawn out.

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