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.

The Caine Mutiny

  • Directors: Edward Dmytryk
  • Producers: Stanley Kramer
  • Writers: Herman Wouk, Stanley Roberts, Michael Blankfort
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray

Callow Ensign Willis Seward “Willie” Keith (Robert Francis, in his film debut) reports for duty aboard the Caine, his first assignment out of officer candidate school. He is disappointed to find the Caine to be a small, battle-scarred destroyer-minesweeper. Its captain, Commander DeVriess (Tom Tully), has discarded spit-and-polish discipline, and the crew of the Caine has become slovenly and superficially undisciplined – although their performance of their duties is, in fact, excellent. Keith has already met the executive officer, Lieutenant Stephen Maryk (Van Johnson), and is introduced to the cynical communications officer, novelist Lt. Thomas Keefer (Fred MacMurray).

DeVriess thinks Keith has attempted to duck duty aboard the Caine by using family influence, and rides him hard. But DeVriess is soon replaced by Lieutenant Commander Phillip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a no-nonsense veteran officer, who has seen years of continuous duty. He quickly attempts to re-instill discipline into the crew, warning: “[T]here are four ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way, and my way. If they do things my way, we’ll get along.”

The next day, the Caine is assigned to tow a target for gunnery practice. Afterwards, Queeg berates both Keith and Keefer over a crewman’s appearance and, while distracted, cuts off the helmsman’s warning; as a result, the Caine runs over and cuts the towline to the target. Queeg refuses to accept responsibility for the accident and tries to cover it up. Other incidents serve to undermine Queeg’s authority. When the remains of a quart of strawberries is stolen from the officers’ mess, the captain goes to absurd lengths to try to find the culprit. More seriously, in combat, Queeg breaks off escorting a group of landing craft during an amphibious assault long before they reach the fiercely-defended shore, dropping a yellow marker in the water instead and leaving them unsupported. Afterwards, Queeg makes a speech to his officers, not explicitly apologizing for his behavior, but bending enough to ask for their support. His disgruntled subordinates do not respond.

A few days later, Keith reports to his new ship and is surprised to find himself once again serving under Commander DeVriess. However, his new commanding officer lets Keith know that he will start with a clean slate.