Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
Seventy-five years ago, today, the adventure film Frenchman’s Creek was released (or New York opening). Directed by Mitchell Leisen, it was based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Starring Joan Fontaine (sister of Olivia de Havilland), Arturo de Córdova, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Cecil Kellaway, it was produced by Buddy DeSylva (co-founder of Capitol Records) with Talbot Jennings (The Sons of Katie Elder) crafting the screenplay. The musical score included Claude DeBussy‘s Clair de Lune.
An English lady bored with London society brings her [two] children to their country home. Her servant William is also working for a French pirate who holds up with his ship and crew off the coast. They soon meet and she embarks on an adventure with the pirates!
As a beautiful, learned lady of means, Dona St. Columb had it all…and a loveless marriage. After years of being royally subjected to mistreatment, she retreats with her most prized possessions, her two children, to a secluded manor overlooking Britain’s Atlantic shoreline. [She] is enthralled with the tall tales of a scoundrel of a pirate, who has been plundering nearby coastal villages. Full of adventure and fueled by years of neglect, she sets forth to seek him out and, it is not long before she finds him…
“A Lady of Fire and Ice…A Rogue of Steel and Gallantry”
♦ The only film featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in which they do not play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
♦ To make Arturo de Córdova appear taller than Joan Fontaine, he had to wear lifts in his shoes, causing him to teeter when he walked.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any video clips of this movie. There are clips of the 1998 remake. ~Vic