Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Red Badge of Courage 1974

I enjoyed this movie that I found on You Tube.  It was very close to the book and had good atmospherics.  However there was something that didn't quite work for me.  Having given it some thought, and in watching some modern TV, the acting style in this movie was too reminiscent of soap operas.  Not that it was melodramatic or anything like that, it just rang false.

The reason I went for the 1974 version was that it was in colour. I'm now thinking that Richard Thomas as "the youth" aka Henry Fleming, looks better in black and white rather than blue and gray.
Next is to watch the 1951 version, available on You Tube.


  1. I've always liked the '51 version better. Neither Audie Murphy nor Bill Mauldin were anything close to being decent actors, but in a way that made them more convincing (to me, anyway). In addition, the filmmaker actually paid attention to his technical advisors, as the battle scenes are pretty good--you don't very often see aerial shrapnel bursts, for example. Supposedly these advisors were actual ACW veterans, but inasmuch as they would have been around 100 years old, it seems doubtful!

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

    1. Thanks. Your comment roused me to watch the 51 version and damn glad I did. Doesn't have the flashbacks or any real mention of his mum except in the early letter writing scene. The battles were different and I think the dust, smoke and sound effects worked perfectly. I liked the narration as well, tying back to the prose of the book, although the style was very much WW2 newsreel in tone.

      Struck me as a much better photographed and directed movie too, not that I know much about such things. I certainly didn't get the soap opera feel.

      My other observation is that the 51 movie was a bit more patriotic than the 74 and thinking of the times, the 51 is made in the aftermath of the the Second Word War while the 74 has Vietnam as its contemporary. I think that colours the movies a little bit.

      Both were fine adaptations of Stephen Crane's novel.

      You mentioned ACW veterans and I recalled seeing something by Disney when I was a kid. A bit of searching turned up this:

      There are some interesting leads to follow up under "Film portrayals"