Bitter Victory (1957)

Approved   |    |  Drama, War


Bitter Victory (1957) Poster

A Commander receives a citation for an attack on General Erwin Rommel's headquarters, which is actually undeserved, as the Commander is unfit for his job. On top of that, unbeknownst to him, his wife is having an affair with one of his officers.


6.7/10
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14 December 2013 | hitchcockthelegend
4
| Deconstructing Machismo.
Bitter Victory is directed by Nicholas Ray and adapted to screenplay from the novel of the same name written by Rene Hardy. It stars Richard Burton, Curd Jurgens, Ruth Roman, Raymond Pellegrin, Christopher Lee and Nigel Green. Music is by Maurice Leroux and cinematography by Michel Kelber.

It's a film that has proved most divisive over the years, where some have seen fit to devote in depth studies to it, others have bitingly dismissed it as a stretch to far in pretentious posturing. Personally I found it rather dull, a dreary trudge through the World War II deserts as Burton and Jurgens butt heads because Burton's character had an affair with Jurgens' wife (Roman).

The pace is purposely sedate, except for the battle sequence that is, so we are left to rely on the skills of the writers and actors to carry us through to film's end. Burton is good value, he almost always was when he got to brood and pontificate, while Green is his usual irrepressible self. Jurgens, however, is miscast and very uncomfortable with the moody machinations of his character. While the editing is at times awful and a couple of scenes don't really make sense.

Undeniably there is some potency bubbling away in the writing, the deconstruction of machismo and military cynicism angles carry thematic weight, but the film is structured in such a cocksure way it just comes off as being preachy instead of taking full advantage of the emotional core of the characters as written by Hardy. Just because I don't like the film doesn't mean it's bad, as previously stated, many find it fascinating and powerful, but it's not for me and I feel it's one of the great Nicholas Ray's lesser works. 4/10

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