Title: A Walk in the Sun (later reissued in 1951 as Solerno Beachhead)
Starring: Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, George Tyne, John Ireland, Lloyd Bridges, Sterling Holloway, and Norman Lloyd
Produced and directed by Lewis Milestone
Book by Harry Brown
Screenplay by Robert Rosen
Technical Advisor: Colonel Thomas D. Drake
Service/Regiment: “the lead platoon of the Texas Division”
Plot: US soldiers from all walks of life land on the beach in Solerno, Italy during WWII with the mission to take control of a farmhouse held by Nazis and destroy a bridge. An excellent portrayal of men's characters, hopes, dreams, and adaptability. It dealt compassionately with soldiers suffering from mental as well as physical wounds.
Themes: camaraderie of men in battle, simplicity of life despite the horrors of war, innate leadership abilities cannot be determined by training but by ‘trial by fire’
Negatives: The music!! For the first third of this wonderful tale, some guy with a really bad accent (trying to sound like a spiritual?) would blast in with verses of a ballad. The timing was incongruous and never fit into the flow of the story line. About one-third of the way through the story, the ballad singer stopped (mercifully) and I could concentrate on the excellent characters and experience of this “walk”. At the end, however, the ballad returned, along with words. Hopefully, when they re-issued the movie in 1951, they left out the music.
The Facts Behind the Movie
On Sept. 8, 1943, Italy surrendered to the Allied Armed Forces. Operation Avalanche, headed by General Mark W. Clark’s 5th Army, began on Sept. 9 and lasted nine days. Allied forces, including the US 143rd Infantry Regiment, landed from troop ships at five different points. The German occupying force was led by Field Marshal Albert Kesselring and utilized tanks and artillery. However, on Sept. 18, the Germans fell back to Apennines.
Of the 190,000-strong Allied force, 2009 were killed, 7050 were wounded, and 3501 were listed as Missing in Action.
General Clark was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for front-line leadership during the campaign.