Lifeboat

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Writers: Novella, John Steinbeck, Screenplay, Jo Swerling, Uncredited, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Thriller, War
  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Walter Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (John Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. Cooler heads prevail with Garrett (Hume Cronyn) asserting the German’s prisoner of war status and he is allowed to stay.

Kovac takes charge, rationing the little food and water they have; but Willi gradually takes control away from him and is later revealed to be the U-boat captain. One morning, while the others are sleeping, the injured German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix) catches Willi drinking water from a hidden flask. Too delirious and weak to wake anybody up, Gus is pushed overboard by Willi and drowns while the others sleep. Upon waking, the others discover Gus missing and Willi is questioned. When they notice that the Nazi is sweating, the other passengers discover the hoarded flask in his jacket. In a spasm of anger they beat him up and throw him overboard, striking him multiple times to prevent him from reboarding. Musing on Willi’s treachery, Rittenhouse (Henry Hull) asks, “What do you do with people like that?”

The survivors are subsequently spotted by the German supply ship to which Willi had been steering them. Before a launch can pick them up, both are sunk by an Allied warship. A frightened young German seaman is pulled aboard the lifeboat and the passengers argue about keeping him or throwing him overboard to drown. The rescued seaman brandishes a gun and after being disarmed asks, “Aren’t you going to kill me?”. Kovac repeats, “What are you going do with people like that?”

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.