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.

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6.9/10
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21 June 2006 | antcol8
7
| Antonioni remakes Flying Leathernecks...
As it were...The 2 films (this one and Flying Leathernecks) have more in common than one would like to believe, given the fact that F.L. is often thought of as not a "real" Ray film. But the rivalry between 2 military men who dance around the same rank (one being generally subservient - not by choice - to the other) is in both cases treated as as much a psychological issue as an issue of military discipline. The difference is that in F.L. the psychological aspect is soft-pedaled (except for a couple of key scenes). I have to admit that there are a couple of ways that I prefer F.L. Obviously, Bitter Victory is a much finer and more fully realized film. But it feels failed to me in some important ways: it seems to aspire to the status of independent artwork (the score, the long scenes of trudging through the desert), and as such it is not totally successful. It doesn't break free of its genre moorings the way Fuller or Sirk or Ophuls (etc.) can and often do. F.L. doesn't pretend to be more than it is: it stays solidly within genre conventions, easy resolution and all. Its lack of aspiration makes it easier to watch, to some degree. There are unforgettable moments in Bitter Victory: the scorpion, the camel bladder, the raid, the dance, the fight in the street (pure Ray). But the whole doesn't convince me, the issues don't move me. Ray often seems poised between Kazanian script and actor - driven film-making on one hand and more personal crazy auteurist cinema on the other. I haven't had that revelation that caused Godard to say "the cinema is Nicholas Ray". I'll keep trying.

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