Battle Cry is not a movie I would pick off the shelf. On the surface, it appears to a fifties war movie which as a whole is not something I am generally interested in. In fact, most “war movies” are not my cup of tea, unless they offer a hell of a driving story. This film is far from the typical “war film”. There is a war in the background, and it follows Marine Corp recruits from day one all the way to the days on the front line but we mostly get to follow the lives of these men in and out of the military. So much so that it is more about their intricate lives than about the war or even the Marine Corps. This threw me for a loop and especially considering it becomes apparent very quickly that this film took a unique point of view.
Our story follows a group of young men as they join the Marines in 1942. The young men are prepared for battle and trained to be the best of the best. Unfortunately for the men, they receive a series of non-combat assignments and the commander starts to get frustrated. The men start to find lives outside of the corp and things get complicated for some. Eventually, their colonel demands their company is on the front line. It becomes time for them to face battle whether their lives are prepared or not.
The film finds itself focused almost entirely on the stories of the men lives outside the military while they are in New Zealand (and I am choosing to ignore the unrealistic time frame in which they go back and forth to New Zealand). This seems to be a rather unique concept for a film of this time period and I find myself rather interested in one or more of the stories. Problem being is that the connecting piece and the way the stories move back and forth, it’s rather confusing. All this does is make the film seem really disconnected.
The Film 3/5
Director Raoul Walsh and Cinematographer Sidney Hickox, known mostly for their work together on the film Gentleman Jim, took the reigns in bringing this bigger than life tale to the screen. However grand their attempt may have been, there seems to be some serious flaws in the picture quality for this release. It is hard to define exactly what I experienced while I was watching the film. There seems to be a constant issues with the color and focus. This is especially noticeable during the scene transitions and it is hard to ignore. It is definitely a huge let down to see this in a film. That being said, when the picture doesn’t have issues the picture seems beautifully clear and looks wonderful. In particular the scenes where the troops are in the the large field is truly beautifully clear. I found that overall the transition to blu-ray is an overall upgrade despite its obvious issues.
Picture Quality 2.5/5
Probably the most stand out attribute is the score and the overall composition of sound throughout the film. It is by far the most consistent element of the film and later the film would get recognized with an Academy Award Nomination for best score. This would prove to be a grand recognition for Composer Max Steiner who certainly earned it with this tricky piece of film, this would be Steiner’s Twentieth and final Oscar Nomination. I found through all the aspects of the film that were transitioned into the blu-ray format the sound seems to be the best aspect overall. No fluctuations, no issues, and all in all well suited for home viewing.
Audio Quality 5/5
The packaging for this release I found to be quite underwhelming. The artwork does well to elude to the story within although the comic strip-esque artwork s hard to read, and more than anything makes the film look much older than it feels when it is playing. The good thing about this is how much it stands out, the film is drastically different than the war films of the time, and the cover should stand out. We get a standard Amaray case from Warner Bros Archives and the case feels sturdy overall. Warner continues to deliver a disc with an image however the tone is much different on the disc than the cover and seems to convey two different films. In fact the image found on the disc is actually the image found on the back cover of the the case which is just fine because the images seem to be just as disconnected as the film overall.
The Packaging 4/5
Warner Bros Archive didn’t have much to work with and as a result the only extra included is the trailer. It is a shame as much I may not have cared for the film and its overall subject matter I found it unique and worthy of some extra content.
Special Features 1/5
Here’s the deal a war film made in 1955 is not something I particularly wanted to watch I will be completely upfront about that. I assumed, as most would, that I would find a film full of one-liners, war, and dames pining over their absent husbands. What we get instead is a series of stories and almost no war to speak of. It seems as if the boys are bound to never experience any battle however that doesn’t stop the filmmakers with adding dramatics through the lives of the women they love and how the war is shaping their experiences. This does well to separate this film from the pack but the problem soon becomes how disconnected the film is. Even more than that the overall structure is confusing and lacks the ability to keep interest. This is the ultimate issue that ruins any chances it had to make this worthwhile. You can purchase this edition HERE.