Bold and the Brave (1956)
Director: Lewis R. Foster and Mickey Rooney.
Starring: Wendell Corey (Fairchild), Mickey Rooney (Dooley), Don Taylor (Preacher), Nicole Maurey (Fiamma), John Smith (Smith), Race Gentry (Hendricks), Ralph Votrian (Wilbur), Wright King (Technician), Stanley Adams (Master Sergeant), Bobs Watson (Bob), Tara Summers (Tina), Diana Darrin (Lina).
American troops during the Italian Campaign in 1944. Three buddies fighting in Italy come to a bad break up because of a personality disorder of one of the men known as Preacher. The movie is more about character under terrible pressures, rather than history, but it is still worth watching.
Spoiler Warning:below is a summary of the entire film.
Italy 1944. "The battle is big . . . but some things are even bigger . . . sometimes the battle inside a man makes the war seem small by comparison . . . This battle began at the bivouac area with the fresh troops awaiting their baptism of fire . . ."
Dooley comes running over to another soldier, named Dave Fairchild, and tells him to wake up. Willy Dooley has received some mail and he wants to share it with his friend. One of the letters is too personal and Willy won't share that one.
Dave asks Willy why'd he get married? To evade military service, but now he says that this army stuff is the life. He says: ". . . if I had known how good the army was, I would have enlisted before this. Three squares a day, nice drinking buddies, lots of laughs, this is the life."
Willy is a hustler. He gets some wine and has some drinks with his buddies in the field. One of the soldiers is downing a lot of wine, but then suddenly he flops down on the ground. Willy tells the guy: "Oh, come on. It isn't that bad." He goes to help the guy up, but straightens up and tells the others that this man has a hole in his head. They figure it must be a sniper and get the hell away from where they were.
The other guys already know about the sniper and have devised a plan to flush him out. Willy and Dave join in on the search. Dave is the one who comes upon the sniper. He has an easy shot and yet he can't kill the sniper. The sniper stands up to shoot a soldier and Dave only says: "No!" The sniper turns around and is about to shoot Dave, when another soldier, Sgt. Wallaster, kills the man. The sergeant tells Dave that the sniper almost killed him, but Dave just says he couldn't shoot the guy.
At chow Dave sits by Sgt. Wallaster, the man who saved Dave's life. Dave is worried because he doesn't think he can get over this inability to shoot a man. He interprets this unwillingness to being a coward. He adds: "It's quite a shock." The sergeant says everyone out here is scared. It's just that some people are less scared than others. It's kill or be killed. Dave just can't see himself thinking like that, but he thanks the sergeant for saving his life. He says he won't forget it.
Willy comes running over to Dave and Dave introduces him to Sgt. Wallaster. Willy says that the scuttlebutt is that they are going to all get four days leaves and maybe they can do some sightseeing. Wallaster, who has the nickname of Preacher, says he would like that. He'd like to see the church in the local town because it's 600 year old . Willy says he was hoping to see something around 19 or 20 years old.
Three weeks later. The soldiers head into town on their four days leave. The three fellows are in town at a restaurant and Willy talks about seeing girls. Preacher tells Dave that this is not something with which he wants to be involved. He excuses himself. Willy is bewildered by this behavior. He tells Dave they should do something for the Preacher.
The Preacher is buying something from a street vendor. A knock-out prostitute comes over to him and tries to get his attention, but Preacher just keeps moving away from her. The prostitute gets very discouraged by the Preacher, but Dave signals to her to go after the guy.
So the prostitute runs and catches up with Preacher. She gives him some money that she says belongs to the sergeant. The Preacher believes her story that the vendor overcharged him and she got his change for him. This really impresses Preacher and he asks her if he could pay her back in some way. She says she would like to eat.
Her name is Fiamma. She asks Preacher if he wants to go home with her. He says no. She tells him he's a very funny soldier. They go for a simple picnic. He gets some buttermilk from a local farm.
Dave and Willy go to a bar to party with Tina and Lina.
Fiamma finally gets Preacher to her place, but there Preacher gets a bit nervous and leaves. He does tell her that he will see her again tomorrow.
Preacher tells Dave about Fiamma. Dave is pleased that Preacher finally found a girlfriend. The next day Preacher goes to see Fiamma with a bunch of presents. She asks to see him for three days straight. He pulls away from her, but she is so patient and understanding with him that he agrees to the arrangement.
Dave and Willy are having a high old time on this second day of their four day leave.
Preacher and Fiamma return from spending the day out together. She says she had a great day. She sits him down and says that she would like to have him as a husband. Preacher still is inhibited by his feelings of guilt and shame. Since he's never felt like this before, he feels very uneasy. She tells him to put his arms around her. He starts to, but loses his nerve. Again Fiamma is very patient with him. She says he is afraid of love, but she will teach him that it is something good. They kiss, but then Preacher jumps out of the bed. She sticks to him and he gives in and kisses her. He even says that he loves her. He gets a bit carried away saying that he is going to marry her.
Later Fiamma goes to a bar to talk with Dave about something important. She tells him she is all confused. She thinks she loves Preacher. She asks for his help. Dave had given her some money to go with Preacher, but now she gives him back the money. Fiamma also asks Dave not to tell Preacher about the money.
Dave is skeptical so she explains that her family in another town were slowly starving and so she came here to make some money to prevent this starvation. Dave doesn't believe her and tells her that she is not going to get away with this. He thinks she is trying to hustle Wallaster out of his money.
Now Fiamma gives a very touching explanation about how Preacher has made her feel so happy for the first time in two years. She starts to cry. Dave says he is sorry. She asks for his help to change her lifestyle into a decent one. Fiamma thinks she can do this with Preacher.
Now Dave says she's quite a girl with a tinge of admiration for her drive. Preacher comes into the bar and sits down with the two people. He tells Dave that after the war is over Fiamma and he will get married.
Things seem to be going well for the happy couple, but in comes a soldier who has been a customer of Fiamma. He comes barging over to the table being way too friendly with Fiamma. Dave tells the guy to go away, so the soldier starts spilling the beans about Fiamma. Dave is absolutely shocked and crushed. Fiamma starts crying.
The soldiers have to leave because the truck has arrived to take them back to base. Dave tells Fiamma not to let those guys get her down. He then tell Preacher that those soldiers were all drunk and didn't know what they were talking about. Dave leaves the bar.
Preacher asks if Fiamma knows those men. She slowly says yes. She tries to explain things to Preacher, but he is too broken-hearted to stay. He leaves the bar. Fiamma cries. She runs after him screaming that she wants to explain and that she loves him.
From around her neck, Preacher pulls off the crucifix necklace he had given to Fiamma for good luck. He tells her she is not worthy of the cross. This makes Dave mad at Preacher and he tells him not to treat her with such contempt. A little later he asks Preacher what is wrong with him? He's messing up a chance to be happy with the girl. Preacher can only feel his own pain and no one else's. He says: "I should have known better."
Willy wants Dave to go gambling with him and then go over to see Tina and Lina. Dave says that he wants to go find Preacher to have a talk with him.
Preacher lays on his cot with tears in his eyes. Dave comes over and sits down to talk with him. He starts explaining that they didn't set him up to be malicious. They wanted Preacher to have a little fun for once in his life. Dave says Preacher really does love the girl and the girl loves Preacher, so go over and talk this thing over with Fiamma. Preacher tells Dave to get out of here and leave him alone. And now Preacher lashes out against Dave hitting him below the belt by calling him a coward and a gigolo for living off the earnings of his wife. In fact, says Preacher, Dave is as rotten as Fiamma is.
Dave says he feels sorry for Preacher. He says evil can be found anywhere and everywhere. Willy now comes into the tent shouting that he won and now has $1,200 dollars stuffed under his shirt. He starts talking with Preacher who tells him to get out. Dave speaks up to tell Willy that Preacher thinks the two of them are evil and in league with the devil.
The call for chow now sounds and Willy stuffs his shirt with all the money again and he and Dave go to eat. A guy comes over and tells Willy he has to come with him to gamble with a bunch of the men. Dave tells the guy that the money belongs to Willy now and he can do with it whatever he wishes. The guy is not buying that. The guys want a chance to win some of that money back from Willy.
The guy leaves. Willy gets up and starts going to the gambling tent. Dave runs over to him to ask him what the heck is he going to do? He wants Willy to keep the money for his family. For some reason, Willy now wants to tell Dave about the real Willy. He says he has been putting on a show trying to act like a big man like Dave is. The stories he told Dave were all changed to make himself look bigger and better than he is.
Long story short, Willy convinces Dave to help him get his dream accomplished of getting enough money to go back to New Jersey and open up a grand restaurant called Dooley's. This time, however, Dooley loses $900 dollars. Dave pulls him away from the table and tells him to get out of the game, while he still has $300 dollars left.
Dooley, however, says he can make a comeback. So Dave gives in and Willy gets back in the game. This time he gets $7,000 dollars. And yet he still goes on. And now he wins all the money, $30,480 dollars.
Dave and Willy go back to their bunk where they lay out all the money on the cot. Preacher comes over and tells Willy to get rid of that money. This, of course, leads to an argument between Willy and Preacher, who childishly insists that Willy get rid of that money within five minutes. The argument continues and Preacher starts using his rank to punish Willy and Dave.
Now Dave speaks out against Preacher. He tells Willy that Preacher is nobody's buddy. "Half man, half saint. I don't care what you think of me, but don't take it out on Willy. Now listen to me you phony knight in shinning armor. I saw in you everything I wanted to be in this man's army. A man who wasn't afraid to die. Oh, I envied you Preacher, oh, how I envied you. You almost took me in before Fiamma came along and started opening my eyes. Now listen, you're not the religious man you pretend to be Preacher. You know why? Because you don't know the meaning of forgiveness. Look at what you're trying to do to Willy. You're a phony, Preacher, a real phony. You make me so sick I want to throw up."
The men are on reconnaissance. They come upon some damaged houses. Preacher says that's the building they told us about. They have to get up the ridge behind the houses. That will be their observation post. So the men start moving to the abandoned house. All of a sudden, the Germans open up with machine guns. The guys have to hit the dirt fast. Several men are hit in the ensuing skirmish. One of the guys manages to get up close to the wall of the house. He then throws a grenade into the house and it goes off.
Four German soldiers now rush to the front of the home. Preacher tells Dave that they will take two each. Preacher gets his two men, but Dave can't fire his rifle. Preacher wounds one of Dave's two Germans. But the remaining two are still in action. Dave could have easily killed the wounded German, but again he can't pull the trigger. Preacher tells Dave to fire his rifle or he's going to shoot Dave himself. Dave finally fires and kills the wounded German. Now Preacher kills the fourth German by use of a grenade.
Preacher wants to move out, but one of the missing men comes crawling into the house. The fellow has been hit bad in the mid-section. Preacher says they are going to have to move out and leave the wounded man behind for there is very little they can do for the fellow. The guy working as a medic says it would be inhuman just to let the man die here.
So Preacher waits a little longer. Then he says they are moving out. But as the men prepare to go forward a German tank comes up and starts blowing the house to smithereens. Then the tank leaves.
Now Preacher doesn't really know what to do. Dave says that they're stuck here. He then asks Preacher: "How does it feel Preacher? You're nothing as a man and now you fail as a soldier. You better start praying. Maybe God will give you a better break than you gave Fiamma."
Preacher says: "This mission gets accomplished if I have to do it alone." He gets up to go. Dave gets up too, but Willy's leg is caught under some beams. Dave helps Willy get free. Preacher starts to manhandle Willy a bit and discovers that he has all the money stuck in his shirt. So the Preacher starts pulling all the money out of Willy's shirt and from his pants bottoms stuck in his boot.
Willy starts picking up the money, but Preacher stops him. He says Willy can lead them and Dave can provide support for Willy and him. The two fellows go out and Dave is left behind. He starts covering the money up using some wood, then joins the other two fellows.
They keep moving up until they see the tank coming back. The tank explodes the chimney, about the only thing still standing of the house. Now Preacher gives the order to move forward.
Preacher is tripped up by a mine and falls to the ground, just before the mine goes off. He's hit by shrapnel in his leg. Willy uses the opportunity to go back and start picking up the money. Dave sees him heading to the ruins and shouts "no" at him.
The machine gunner on top of the tank sees Willy and opens fire on him. Willy is hit multiple times. Dave has the urge to run to Willy, but he stops himself because he knows that Willy is already dead. Now everything depends on Dave. He is the only one healthy enough to put up any resistance.
Dave starts working his way around to a good position from which to shoot the machine gunner. The machine gunner tries to kill him and the tank gun throws a couple of shells Dave's way. But Dave gets to a good position. From there he fires multiple shots at the machine gunner and hits the fellow who falls back into the tank's center.
Now the tankers really try to kill Dave firing shell after shell and machine gunning his positions. He keeps going back and forth confusing the tank crew. Then they turn the turret in the wrong direction and Dave is able to throw a small boulder into the wheel system which stops the tank from moving its position.
Dave gets behind some rocks where he can't be seen. Then with a grenade in his hand he jumps on top of the rocks and now he jumps onto the tank top. As someone opens the lid by the machine gun, Dave drops the grenade right into the hole and forces the lid shut. Boom! The tank now burns from fires on both sides of the tank.
Dave goes to check on Willy. He's definitely dead. So Dave starts taking the money out of Willy's shirt and stuffs it in his shirt. He also fills a helmet up with the bills.
And now he goes over to see Preacher. He tells Preacher: "I'm going to send this money back to Willy's wife. I'm going to write her how he died. God will forgive him. Who are you going to die for in the end? Who's going to forgive you, Preacher?"
Preacher pulls off his crucifix necklace. He holds it out toward Dave. He starts to drag his body toward Dave but doesn't get far. Dave is miffed, but he knows he has to save Preacher. He goes over and puts Preacher on his back, piggy back style. As Dave's hands are busy, Preacher picks up the helmet filled with the money for Willy's wife.
He starts walking down a road and sees the Americans coming toward him.
"Bravery is courage in action. It produces the deed which sets the hero above the coward." Signed Omar N. Bradley, General of the Army.
Good film. This film does not have much information at all on the history of the Italian Campaign in 1944. Instead, it's a human story about love, inhibition, excessive religiosity, friendship and greed. Three army buddies have a good relationship, until the overly religious fellow goes a bit crazy after learning that the girl he loves and who loves him is a prostitute.. Yes, but she is quitting that business. Yes, Preacher is a very damaged young man with way too strict and rigid of a moral code. Preacher throws love out the window because of the background of the girl he loves. Then he blames his friends for setting him up with a prostitute in the first place.
Preacher is just too immature and vengeful. His role as sergeant becomes distorted because of his over reaction to the lady prostitute. Because of this he makes immature decisions to punish his friends and ends up being indirectly responsible for the death of one of his ex-friends.
Most probably, Preacher had a terrible childhood that warped his perception of reality. He then interpreted religion in such a way as to justify his warped perception of reality. This Preacher was so damaged that he couldn't hold or even kiss a woman even though he had deep feelings for the Italian woman. In fact, through her patience and understanding she made him into a more normal human being, before his temper tantrum. .
When he learns the truth about the Italian woman, he draws all the wrong ideas from the experience. Instead of being grateful for the help of the woman, he just becomes more vengeful to women and his friends, who were only trying to help him.
Mickey Rooney won an Academy Award for his acting.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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