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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Story of G.I. Joe (1945)

(aka: War Correspondent)



Reviews and Comments

"Tough skin on this bird."

Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent during World War II in Tunisia and Italy. He won the Pulitzer Prize while on the job, and he was killed by Japanese gunfire while this film was in production.

The Story of G.I. Joe is an episodic film based on Pyle's writings about the experiences of the infantry he worked amongst. Though there are battle scenes, they are brief and expository. What the film is really about is the times in between: the holing up, the waiting, the marching. There are a many characters but no main characters. As the title suggests, this isn't about any one infantryman so much as all of them.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the film is that it does not shy away from the grueling realities of war, yet finds brightness in the worst of situations. Sometimes there is brightness in actual events; at others it is in an attitude or a line. An early scene has a wedding -- an unusually overtly significant event -- which finds heart and humor that is just right.

It is an upbeat movie, upbeat even in the face of great tragedy. This in itself is an honorable tribute to the infantry. Despair is easy. Optimism is what's hard.