Cinematography by Sol Polito "Desire" list. Gary Cooper, the most crystalline of the faces, direct in his discursive purposes, without makeup tricks while, at the same time, the most suitable of the actors for what in him is of an immediate persona. And also a very handsome man, who rightly obsessed Charles Laughton and, by the way, me.
I'd say Sergeant York is a 3 1/2 star movie but if it comes down to making me choose between 3 and 4 stars I'm going to give it 3. Thanks, Mubi..! I liked it, but didn't love it, exactly the same way I feel about Gary Cooper. The first half was fun but the second half was better despite the lack of WWI battles I'd expected.
Why should i completely disregard this film simply because it is a work of heavy propaganda nourished with grotesque patriotism ? If you remember well "Soy Cuba" (and you should), propaganda and great filmmaking are not antagonist. And here, after the beautiful first hour, and before the war comes, you have to enjoy the perfect grammar and control of Hawks, how he uses every detail, how Cooper shines in every scene.
A pure propaganda piece, but it manages to treat York's dilemma of choosing between God and country with some nuance. More importantly, SY is entertaining in an old-fashioned sort of way. I thought Hawks handled York's backwoods conversion, which was specific and sympathetic, better than his military career, which felt a tad Hollywood-y.