A Few Words About A few words about...™ Battleground -- in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

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The Warner Archive is picking up steam.

Four new releases.

Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, and a superb cast in the western thriller Bad Day at Black Rock, Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. in Wait Until Dark, the incomparable Judy Holliday and Dean Martin in Comden, Green and Julie Styne's Bells are Ringing, and Van Johnson, John Hodiak and company in William Wellman's Battleground.

I'm making note of Battleground first, as I don't want it to get lost amongst the others, as it's a terrific low-key WWII drama.

A slice of military life, unlike the majority of WWII dramas produced during the war, this 1949 production is an intimate film that The New York Times' Bosley Crowther called "The Big Parade of World War II."

He went on to opine: "This new drama... is the best of the World War II pictures that have yet been made in Hollywood. And further, we feel that its unfolding at the Astor on Armistice Day, just twenty-four years (less eight days) after "The Big Parade" opened there, is a piece of poetic justice with arresting significance."


The cast is exemplary. Van Johnson, George Murphy, Marshall Thompson, James Whitmore, Richard Jaeckel, Ricardo Montalban, and in his first role of import, Jim Arness, who would find his claim to fame, just a couple of years later, playing a 6'7" celery, or was it a carrot?

Viewing Battleground in projection, it looked so pristine and proper, that had I not known otherwise, I'd have been willing to bet that it was a 4k scan harvested from the original nitrate negative.

Close.

A safety fine grain master made from the OCN, before the original element was lost in the GEH fire.

While Battleground may not jump out at you as one of those "must own" war productions, I'd advise taking that leap of faith.

Image - 5

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Recommended

RAH

 

Robin9

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It must be at least 30 years since I last saw this film. I'm really looking forward to this Blu-ray disc arriving.
 
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Randal Gist

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Great to hear. This one my favorite WWII films, along with Ford's "They Were Expendable," Kings's "Twelve O'Clock High," Milestone's "A Walk in the Sun" and Wellman's "The Story of G.I. Joe" from the late, to the immediate after war years. The war is still an immediate experience, but seen through a much more realistic , and less gung ho jingoistic lens. Great script, direction, and ensemble work.
 

battlebeast

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I never thought BATTLEGROUND would see the light of day on blu ray; more of my favorite director is always welcome!

I wish Warner Archive would release more best picture nominees on blu ray, even some of the rare ones from the 30s, but alas I realize the monumental cost of restoring and mastering for blu.
 
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LeoA

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If anyone has any doubts, this one is on Turner Classic Movies probably 3 or 4 times a year. Great movie that I'm sure you'd enjoy.

Didn't they do this on a shoestring budget very quickly? All the more impressive.
 

Race Bannon

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I certainly didn't serve in harm's way like our soldiers in WWII did, but I did serve in the military overseas, in a deployed (field) environment. This film, in addition to all its other great qualities, does the best job of capturing the feeling of that -- that mixture of ennui and fear, of gallows humor and improvising. The fried egg in the helmet is exactly the kind of stupid crap we used to do.

I pre-ordered, hoping for a price drop between now and release. I may back it out if it doesn't drop.
 

Robert Crawford

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If anyone has any doubts, this one is on Turner Classic Movies probably 3 or 4 times a year. Great movie that I'm sure you'd enjoy.

Didn't they do this on a shoestring budget very quickly? All the more impressive.
Not really, AFI noted the budget was $2,000,000 and was budgeted in 1948, while filming took place in 1949, before being released in January, 1950.
 
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LeoA

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Yeah, I was thinking afterwards that I might be mixing that fact up with a Korean War movie called The Steel Helmet that was noted for its success despite a shoestring budget and its production lasting less than two weeks.
 
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Flashgear

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Great news on Battleground...I hope that WA will give the same treatment to Thirty Seconds over Tokyo soon...as far as big budget 1940s MGM war movies, I am still blown away at the soundstage/ process shots/ effects/ models sequence depicting the launch of the Doolittle Raiders B - 25's from the storm and spray tossed deck of the USS Hornet...incredible! The sound stage must have been huge, with full scale B-25 mock ups and state of the art film making that still blows me away...and, like They Were Expendable, it's certainly one of the few serious and realistic great war films bereft of phony hystrionics and heroic improbabilities that was actually completed during the war...a great MGM wartime fantasy film like A Guy Named Joe would be most welcome also...
 

skylark68

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This is a great release. I'm really looking forward to it. The old DVD wasn't bad at all appearance wise, so I imagine this blu ray will look wonderful. It's good to hear Mr. Harris give it a glowing review.

I'd enjoy seeing Destination Tokyo on blu ray one day. That's always been one of my all time favorite WW2 films.
 

Robert Crawford

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I'd love to see Destination Tokyo. Great film and we need more WWII classics (And Cary Grant classics) on Blu-Ray.

Even has some pretty impressive special effects of its own.
Don't forget John Garfield in Destination Tokyo, his character made that film better in my opinion. Also, would love to see Air Force on Blu-ray.
 

benbess

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Great news on Battleground...I hope that WA will give the same treatment to Thirty Seconds over Tokyo soon...as far as big budget 1940s MGM war movies, I am still blown away at the soundstage/ process shots/ effects/ models sequence depicting the launch of the Doolittle Raiders B - 25's from the storm and spray tossed deck of the USS Hornet...incredible! The sound stage must have been huge, with full scale B-25 mock ups and state of the art film making that still blows me away...and, like They Were Expendable, it's certainly one of the few serious and realistic great war films bereft of phony hystrionics and heroic improbabilities that was actually completed during the war...a great MGM wartime fantasy film like A Guy Named Joe would be most welcome also...
I agree about the FX for Thirty Seconds, and so did the Academy!:

SPECIAL EFFECTS
WINNER
THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO
Photographic Effects by A. Arnold Gillespie, Donald Jahraus, Warren Newcombe; Sound Effects by Douglas Shearer

https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1945
 
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Dick

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Yeah, I was thinking afterwards that I might be mixing that fact up with a Korean War movie called The Steel Helmet that was noted for its success despite a shoestring budget and its production lasting less than two weeks.
Another movie that needs Blu-ray treatment.
 
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Richard Gallagher

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Speaking of Warner Bros. war movies, I'm wondering if we're ever going to see The Naked and the Dead, which hasn't even been released on DVD. It was an RKO production but released theatrically by Warner, and I'm not certain who owns it.
 

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