GUTS & GLORY: Great American War Movies by Lawrence H. Suid

GUTS & GLORY: Great American War Movies

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The topic--if not the title--looks promising, but Suid's grapple with the American war film is a skein of contradictory assertions, inflated observations, and often extraneous quotations (King Vidor to Michael Herr) whose number would daunt the most avid buff or historian. Postulating that war films from Birth Of A Nation through Patton display the American fighter as uniformly ""brave, determined, and successful,"" Suid suggests quite the opposite in a description of the sundry messages and plots employed in this highly varied genre. At best a case study of the making of certain spectacular Hollywood war pictures--Air Force, The Longest Day, Tora! Tora! Tora!, etc.--Suid's desultorily organized presentation indiscriminately mixes production information, plot outlines, and critical opinion. Shot through with hyperbole (The Longest Day became ""the quintessential war film""), Guts & Glory also displays considerable cheek in anticipating the theme of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, probably the best-guarded movie secret of recent years. Several acknowledged classics of the genre such as All Quiet On the Western Front and Only Angels Have Wings are brushed over or ignored, and a lengthy chapter on John Wayne offers minimal insights. While sections of the book may intrigue those who wonder how scripts are tailored to win the armed services' support, or how long it took Patton to reach the screen, Suid offers little in the way of real substance, judgment, or historical perspective.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1978
Publisher: Addison-Wesley