A Walk in the Sun is a war film released in 1945 (reissued by Realart Pictures in 1951 as Salerno Beachhead), based on the novel by Harry Brown who was a writer for Yank magazine based in England. It was directed by Lewis Milestone and starred Dana Andrews and Lloyd Bridges.
During the World War II Allied invasion of Italy, a junior sergeant (Dana Andrews) leads his platoon to attack a fortified farmhouse. The film is noted for its attempt to portray the infantryman's experience realistically. It goes so far to show the leading sergeant have a mental breakdown and other two platoon sergeants (Andrew and Bridges) take over. They manage to succeed while overcoming their own self doubts.
- One of the infantryman's name is Windy and he is always writing a letter to his sister in his head.
- Private Archimbeau continually prophesies that they will be fighting the Battle of Tibet in 1958.
- Huntz Hall played Pvt. Carraway.
With A Walk in the Sun
being serialised in Liberty Magazine
in October 1944, actor Burgess Meredith
who eventually narrated the film persuaded his friend Samuel Bronston
to produce the film beginning in the same month. Bronston had to shut down production due to problems with creditors and the production was taken over by Superior Productions that included the director Lewis Milestone
Bronston filed a suit where an out of court settlement awarded him 21.25% of the films profits. The production was filmed at 20th Century Fox's Ranch alongside that studio's own production of A Bell for Adano
In January 1945 Milestone showed his work to the U.S. Army
for their approval. The Army had assigned Colonel Thomas D. Drake to the film as technical advisor
. Drake had risen from private to sergeant in World War I
, been commissioned and eventually commanded the 168th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division
in the North African campaign where he and his Regiment were captured by the Germans at the Battle of Kasserine Pass
. Drake had recently been exchanged as a prisoner by the Germans due to his ill health, returning to the US in 1944. The Army was pleased with the film but only requested two changes. The Army suggested that a remark be placed in the film that the platoon had used all the shells for its bazooka
to explain their not using it during the attack on the farmhouse. Milestone complied with this by shooting a scene where the bazooka crew said they used up all their shells in a battle with enemy tanks. The Army also requested a briefing scene at the film's beginning to explain the platoon's purpose in the film; as the film gave the impression that the platoon meandered about without an objective. Milestone had authorised the shooting of such a scene but whether it was filmed and edited out of the release no one is sure.. Milestone had a ballad
composed by Millard Lampell
and Earl Robinson
that was sung by Kenneth Spencer accompany the film replacing much of composer Freddie Rich
's sensative instrumental score. The ballad predates High Noon
as a title song and ongoing ballad that accompanies the film's narrative.
Though several film companies showed strong interest in acquiring the film, 20th Century Fox acquired the film for release in July 1945, but when Japan surrendered, Darryl F. Zanuck stopped production of all war films. The film was released in June 1946 to critical and popular acclaim but also a strong critique of the film that Samuel Fuller sent in the form of a letter to Milestone.
Robert Rossen's screenplay follows Brown's book very closely. Milestone also recommended that Brown become a screenwriter in Hollywood that led to a prolific career.
- Desmond, Daniel Dr A Walk in the Draft *Samuel Fuller on Lewis Milestone's A Walk in the Sun*A Walk in the Sun at Archive.org