film 7 of 7

A Walk in the Sun

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

Beautiful dialogue, with an ear simultaneously for the poetic and the prosaic (the former coming from the latter), beautiful direction which fits the same description: loose documentary techniques for men on the move, careful compositions for conversation, operatic effects (extravagant movements and real montages) when the violence explodes; the episodic structuring must have been a real contrast to the artificial through lines and unities of the rah-rah war propaganda films (my experience is limited), and that structure parallels the messages most powerfully: in the marvellous exchange between Dana Andrews and Sterling Holloway there is an exploration of how, in this action as, ultimately, in all human action, one never quite knows what’s going on over that rise, whether or not it’s right, and what one’s place is in it, so that here, as elsewhere, we find the doubt (and the faith, which gets undertalked about) at the beginning of the post-war period; the usual cross-section of men is fairly nuanced and detailed, the breakdown of the commander is a very interesting and understated acknowledgment of the fallibility of authority, which of course would soon become the dominant trope in military and political subjects (this seems the ideal balance, temporally and philosophically in between preceding jingoisms and subsequent iconoclasms), the long exchange with the Italians suggests different worlds, views and realities from the American one–all over there are suggestions of cubism, relativism, fragmentation and all sorts of other modernist tenets, all firmly within the bounds of a well made play; the final battle seems to go for more straightforward suspense and character psychology, and is a tiny bit less interesting as a result