One of the best US war films ever, driven by great confidence, extremely elegant shots (the establishing shot at the start is a masterclass in itself), honoring to the full the dilemmas in a war situation. Mann's command over acoustic signifiers is exceptional and Robert Ryan delivers here a powerhouse performance as survival and duty commingle in the patriotic mission. Pacificism is resonant yet realism prevails.
Very modern for an American 1957 war movie. If European directors had us accustomed to contemplative war movies for decades then, Hollywood was more inclined to show us conquering soldiers in their fighting machines than some serious soul-searching. Robert Ryan stays as one of the best actors of that period. Strongly recommended.
It is to be said that the film is Mann's personal favorite. I can see why because the film is beautifully located, and it is one of the most successful works from the director which expresses human inconsistency into sharp relief. Men have to fight, but why? That is the question. There are full of quiet and even meditative moments which site this film as almost spiritual one. Ryan, Ray, and Keith are all wonderful.
Godard was right. Super Mann indeed. Terry Malick must have seen that opening sequence for sure. Reminded me a lot of Thin Red Line. The hills, the whispers, the sighs, the fear, the grass, the camera movements. Tossing Silver Stars into the cadaverous chasm beneath the pit was very poetic. That final shot with Robert Ryan closing his black book? <3 The most silent war film I've ever seen. A chamber piece in itself.