Dana Andrews and Richard Conte in A Walk in the Sun (1945)


(director: Lewis Milestone; screenwriters: Robert Rossen/from the novel of Harry Brown; cinematographer: Russell Harlan; editor: Duncan Mansfield; music: Fredric Efrem Rich; cast: Dana Andrews (Sgt. Tyne), Richard Conte (Rivera), John Ireland (Windy), George Tyne (Friedman), Lloyd Bridges (Sgt. Ward), Sterling Holloway (McWilliams); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lewis Milestone; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1945)

“Might be the best WWII film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lewis Milestone (“Ocean’s Eleven”/”All Quiet on the Western Front”/”The Purple Heart”) directs this bleak realistic war drama, which just might be the best WWII film. It’s adapted from Harry Brown’s novel and the literate screenplay is by Robert Rossen. It tells of an infantry platoon in 1943 that lands at night on the beach at Salerno, Italy, walks six miles during daylight, and takes out a farmhouse defended by Nazis. Ironically titled, as the walk to the farmhouse and the subsequent action was no piece of cake. The black and white film marvelously captures in an unsentimental way the banter of the grunts, their boredom and fears.

Dana Andrews is terrific as he stars as the hard-nosed Sgt. Tyne, a platoon squad leader who through a series of deaths ends up assuming command of his platoon.

The film is less concerned with plot or antiwar sentiments, as it is with honest characterizations and showing how the ordinary soldiers carries out his job in a battle zone. Richard Conte and George Tyne, two machine gunners, needle each other and trade banter as they walk to the destination. John Ireland composes letters to his sister Frances in his head, such as the letter framed during the farmhouse skirmish where he says out loud “Dear Frances, we just blew a bridge and took a farmhouse. It was so easy… so terribly easy.” Though the platoon met with casualties, Ireland made it out alive and goes on to live another day for another fight. Which just might be what it’s all about for the soldier.