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Sgt. Thorne Ryan, who once fought bravely in Korea, now serves as a hard-nosed drill instructor to new Army recruits at Fort Bliss, Texas. But is he really the man he is often described as? His fellow instructor, and friend helps him to face the ghosts of his past experiences in Korea. One night in a bar across the border in Juarez, Mexico, Sgt. Ryan meets a lady who begins to turn his life around. Will this be enough to help him deal with the past? Or will he continue to be so hard on his troops? This movie was filmed mostly on location at Fort Bliss, Texas in El Paso.Written by
Vincent Merlaud <email@example.com>
At about 18 minutes into the film while Richard Widmark and Karl Malden's characters are shooting pool there is a sign on the wall that reads: Watch Your Language Single Men Present. A real "sign" of the times. See more »
When Ryan and Holt have the troops on a training exercise in the field, Ryan tells Holt to "get back to base." The Army doesn't refer to its facilities as bases. An actual solider would have said "get back to the post." See more »
The story could hardly be more familiar. A barracks worth of raw recruits from varying backgrounds arrive at Fort Bliss to go through basic training in the infantry. Widmark is the sterner of the two drill sergeants, Malden the more human, but both are friends, until . . . . Two plotlines are developed simultaneously. The first involves the mostly comic tribulations of the new grunts. They are by turns humiliated, worked to exhaustion, given to pillow fights and practical jokes on one another, as the sergeants attempt to "help you rid yourself of your winsome civilian ways". We are thankfully spared any involvement on their part with young women outside the camp. (The sort of thing, among other things, that positively ruined "Battle Cry.") Of course there has to be a romance, but it is left to Widmark and Malden, the two combat veterans who come to blows over Elaine Stewart, the pride of Montclair, New Jersey, as Julie. She's clearly more attracted to Widmark who is, after all, the male lead, but he professes to despise her because she hangs around in seedy juke joints, drinks, and makes out with soldiers like him. Malden is attracted to her too and, at least for one night, enjoys her favors, which Widmark notices. It annoys him. Widmark and Malden grow somewhat apart. Their irritation with one another increases as Widmark bears down harder on the recruits. His morality is lofty, of the "Nothing you experience in basic training will be as tough as combat," which may be true but which also provides a drill instructor with a license for outright sadism. Not to worry. The boys shape up and do some close order drill at the train platform before shipping out, leaving a new incoming group of recruits staring in awe. Julie leaves town, tearfully, by a train as well, no doubt to recapture her dignity. Widmark and Malden encounter each other on a dark street while returning from the train station, and Malden wordlessly offers Widmark a conciliatory cigarette. The processing machine grinds along and all is well. Widmark's character is oddly written. He quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning while sneering that he's never read her. The only Browning my drill instructor ever heard of was made of metal.
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