Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Home of the Brave (1949)

This week’s selection may  come across as a bit dated especially by today’s standards, but in 1949 it was somewhat ahead of its time. It is the Stanley Kramer-produced Home of the Brave.

Stanley Kramer was know as “Hollywood’s Conscious” in that he either directed or produced films that brought awareness to some social ill, injustice or championed the plight of society’s “underdogs.” If you are familiar with any of the films, you will know that even at the time of their release, they created strong reactions – and not always in the way that Kramer anticipated.

His film credits include:

[As a director]

  • Not as a Stranger (1955)
  • The Pride and the Passion (1957)
  • The Defiant Ones (1958)
  • On the Beach (1959)
  • Inherit the Wind (1960)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
  • Ship of Fools (1965)
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
  • The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1968)
  • R. P. M. (1970)
  • Bless the Beasts and Children (1971)
  • Oklahoma Crude (1973)
  • The Domino Principle (1977)
  • The Runner Stumbles (1979)

[As a producer]

  • Champion (1949)
  • Home of the Brave (1949)
  • The Men (1950)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
  • Death of a Salesman (1951)
  • High Noon (1952)
  • The Sniper (1952)
  • The Member of the Wedding (1952)
  • The Wild One (1953)
  • The Juggler (1953)
  • The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
  • The Caine Mutiny (1954)
  • Pressure Point (1962)
  • A Child is Waiting (1963)
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

In the case of Home of the Brave, the problem addressed is that of racism in the face of the horrors of war; this is a slight deviation from the original play’s addressing the issue of Antisemitism.

The plot deals with a black WWII veteran, Pvt Peter Moss (James Edwards) who has been paralyzed in combat. As part of his treatment, he is undergoing psychoanalysis. Via flashback, we see that he is wracked with guilt a the loss of a lifelong buddy (portrayed by Lloyd Bridges). This overhwleming guilt is compounded by the racism he encounters while on duty. These factors play a major role in his lack of progress in recovery.

The film’s goal is to probe these issues to the point where we (hopefully) see Moss overcome and prevail.

I recommend this picture mainly out of reminiscence of watching this with my late father; he had the knack pulling up a rare movie of this bygone era of cinema.

Comments

  1. Hi, iluv and company:

    Another fantastic choice, iluv!

    I caught ‘Home Of The Brave’ on TV when I was a kid. A film way ahead of its time in regard to race. Deftly handled by a small cast of solid character actors wrapped around a topic that many directors and producers were wary to touch at the time.

    Take a standard Hollywood Marine Recon Squad on a Japanese held island for a premise. Then add not only someone new, but also black. Into a tightly knit group that knows each other well and depends on each other to survive and you have the makings of memorable, near forgotten cinema.

    Lloyd Bridges, Frank Lovejoy and Jeff Corey pull no punches as James Edwards’ Pvt. Moss holds the film together to its triumphant end!

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    For a long time, you couldn’t get me to watch war movies and I think this fell into that time. Have to look for it now.

    • @Patti it sounds like you feel the way I felt about Westerns.
      Another Stanley Kramer film dealing with the affects of war is The Men (1950) starring a pre-Streetcar Marlon Brando and Theresa Wright. It is a bit melodramatic at times but overall it is well acted.

  3. Great choice. I saw this many years ago. A powerful film. James Edwards was always an underrated actor, I think. There were several films in the fifties that tackled racism, most of them were overly earnest, but still interesting. Eye-opening back then.

    • @Yvette. Re: films that tackle racism. That is another and fascinating topic of discussion. As I was reading your post I was thinking about the movies Imitation of Life (both versions) and Pinky.

  4. Excellent movie!! It was way ahead of it’s time and not to be mistaken with the recent film of the same name (although I didn’t mind that 50 Cent-starring flic either).

  5. Another interesting movie from that era to add to the mix though it came a little later (19664) was ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO starring Barbara Barrie and Bernie Hamilton. It was an ultimately heartbreaking story of an interracial romance and marriage.

    I’m going to be writing about it on the blog, I think. If I can find some more info about it. Can’t trust completely to memory anymore.

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