The Red Badge of Courage (film)

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The Red Badge of Courage
File:Red Badge of Courage 1951.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Huston
Produced by Gottfried Reinhardt
Screenplay by John Huston
Albert Band (adaptation)
Based on The Red Badge of Courage 
by Stephen Crane
Starring Audie Murphy
Bill Mauldin
Andy Devine
Robert Easton
Douglas Dick
Tim Durant
Narrated by James Whitmore
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Ben Lewis
Release dates
  • March 16, 1951 (1951-03-16)
Running time
69 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,673,000[1][2]
Box office $1,080,000[1]

The Red Badge of Courage is a 1951 war film made by MGM. Directed by John Huston, it was produced by Gottfried Reinhardt with Dore Schary as executive producer. The screenplay is by John Huston, adapted by Albert Band from Stephen Crane's novel of the same name. The cinematography is by Harold Rosson, and the music score by Bronislau Kaper. The making of this film is the subject of Lillian Ross's 1952 book Picture, originally in The New Yorker.

The American Civil War film is a sparse but faithful retelling of the story, incorporating narration from the text to move the plot forward. Audie Murphy, a hero of World War II who later went into acting, played the lead role of Henry Fleming. The soldier Jim Conklin is renamed Pat Conklin in this film adaptation. Other actors include cartoonist Bill Mauldin, Andy Devine, Arthur Hunnicutt and Royal Dano.

Characters and story

The plot is based on the book with less bloody details. A regiment of Union soldiers head South to engage Confederate forces. Joining them is Henry Fleming (Audie Murphy), a green private sent into battle for the first time. He is unprepared for the fight, but by the time battle breaks out, he finds his endurance and courage tested.[3]



Director John Huston used unusual compositions and camera angles drawn from film noir to create an alienating battlefield environment. Huston had high hopes for the movie, believing it could have been "his best". He became frustrated when the studio cut the film's length to 70 minutes and added narration following supposedly poor audience test screenings.[3]

Much of the history of the making of this film, considered by some a mutilated masterpiece, is found in Lillian Ross' critically acclaimed book Picture. Of the stars who appear in the film, three served in World War II: Bill Mauldin was a famous editorial/cartoonist who created Willie and Joe while in Europe, Audie Murphy served with the U.S. Army in Europe and narrator James Whitmore served with the U.S. Marine Corps.[3]

The film is available on DVD.


According to MGM records, the film earned $789,000 in the US and Canada and $291,000 in other countries, resulting in a loss of $1,018,000. This made it one of the studio's least successful films of the year although it did not lose as much money as Calling Bulldog Drummond, Mr Imperium or Inside Straight.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  2. The Red Badge of Courage Articles at Turner Classic Movies
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ross, Lillian. Picture, 1952.

External links