Battleground

  • Directors: William Wellman
  • Producers: Dore Schary, Robert Pirosh
  • Writers: Robert Pirosh
  • Genres: Action, War, Drama
  • Actors: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy

In mid-December 1944, at a rear area camp in France, Jim Layton (Marshall Thompson) and his buddy Hooper (Scotty Beckett), replacement soldiers fresh from the United States, are assigned to separate companies in a battalion of glider infantry in the 101st Airborne Infantry Division. Watching his new platoon drill, and star-struck to be a part of the famous elite outfit, he brushes off his friend’s suggestion to see a movie together. Layton joins his squad just as they are anticipating going on a 3-day pass to Paris after a long campaign in Holland. Holley (Van Johnson) returns from recuperation after being wounded and Layton discovers that as the new man, he is ignored and unwanted.

Instead of going on leave, the squad is rudely awakened early the next morning and trucked back to the front, where the German army has made a surprise break-through by assaulting through the Ardennes. They stop that night in the town of Bastogne, unsure of where they are or what the situation consists of, but happy to be out of the cold. The platoon is put up for the night in the apartment of a local young woman, Denise (Denise Darcel), with whom Holley hopes to fraternize. Their comfort is brief. The next morning, led by Platoon Sgt. Kinnie (James Whitmore), they march to the outskirts and are ordered to dig in. Just as their positions are nearly prepared, they are moved abruptly to a new location and begin digging again.

The closing theme music matches the tempo and tune of the cadence.

Bad Day at Black Rock

  • Directors: John Sturges
  • Producers: Dore Schary
  • Writers: Story, Howard Breslin, Screenplay, Don McGuire, Millard Kaufman
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller, Western
  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan

In 1945 John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), a handicapped war veteran, steps off the Southern Pacific train at the desert hamlet of Black Rock. It is the first time the train has stopped there in four years. The little town has very few inhabitants and appears to be dying.

Macreedy is looking for a man named Komoko but the residents are inexplicably hostile. At the hotel, the young desk clerk, Pete Wirth (John Ericson), says all the rooms are full. The newcomer is none-too-subtly threatened by local tough Hector David (Lee Marvin). Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), the town’s leading citizen, tells Pete to give Macreedy a room. Smith informs Macreedy that Komoko no longer lives in Black Rock; as a Japanese-American he was interned for World War II.

Certain something is wrong, Macreedy sees the town sheriff, Tim Horn (Dean Jagger), but the lawman is an alcoholic and clearly afraid of Smith. The town physician and undertaker, Doc Velie (Walter Brennan), advises Macreedy to leave town immediately. Smith lets slip that Komoko is dead. Liz Wirth (Anne Francis), Pete’s sister, rents Macreedy a Jeep. Macreedy finds Liz to be the only civil person in town.

Macreedy drives to nearby Adobe Flats, where Komoko lived. He finds the homestead burned to the ground. He finds plenty of water in the well and a patch of wildflowers growing in the dust. On the way back, Coley Trimble (Ernest Borgnine) tries unsuccessfully to run him off the road.

As dawn breaks, Macreedy drives up to the town jail with the injured Smith and Liz’s body. Velie and Horn rush out. They had mustered up enough courage to jail Hector David and Coley Trimble. The state police are called in. As Macreedy gets ready to leave, Doc Velie asks him for Komoko’s medal to help Black Rock heal. Macreedy gives it to him and boards the train.