As much as I liked William Wellman's Battleground, Story of G.I. Joe reaches a whole new level in its dissection of the US Infantry during WW II. This is much more of an epic experience, as we follow this platoon of soldiers across Africa and Europe, through the various landscapes and cityscapes which have been decimated by the war. Through this fantastic imagery Wellman creates a rather bleak film which shows the loneliness and isolation which infantry units experienced, really touching on the anxieties and fears about facing the German army. Many films dealing with WWII seem to ignore the daunting task both physically and mentally of facing the Germans during the war, a force which had essentially crushed anyone who stood in their way. While it's rather epic, the film does spend a lot of time with the individuals of the unit, particularly their commanding officer, Lt. Walker (Robert Mitchum), giving nice insight into a man who is responsible for the lives of the soldiers under him. Probably my favorite scene of the film involves the Lieutenant and a war correspondent which encompasses much of what the film is saying. These infantry men's daily lives are full of drudgery, mud and despair and when they die, they die in this shit hole. The scene is perfect because while the correspondent is saying these things, Mitchum passes out from exhaustion, showcasing the life of an infantry-men who has no time for anything but fighting. William Wellman's Story of G.I. Joe is a beautifully bleak film which feels very genuine in its approach making it one of the best war films ever made.
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