A very successful war film when it came out, it was Universal’s biggest hit until Jaws came out over two decades later. War films get a little overlooked when considering stunts, but it’s because stuntmen are more crucial to a war picture from when the cameras start running all the way to the end, that they are sometimes forgotten about. A war picture automatically ups the danger factor for everyone involved on the picture. To give you an example, to film the war scenes on this film, a total of 50,000 rounds of ammunition, 300 pounds of TNT, 600 pounds of blasting powder and 10 cases of 40% dynamite were required. Many of the battle scenes were re-used for Universal Studio’s later picture The Young Warriors.
This film is highly unusual as it’s about Audie Murphy and stars Audie Murphy as himself. The son of poor Texas sharecroppers, Audie Murphy became a national hero during World War II as the most decorated combat soldier of the war. Among his 33 awards was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more. His story caught the interest of superstar James Cagney, who invited Murphy to Hollywood. Cagney Productions paid for acting and dancing lessons.
He bumbled about in bit parts for many years and then finally became the lead in a few films when he was ultimately offered the opportunity to play himself in this autobiographical film based on his time in World War II. He originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero, but reluctantly took the role eventually. The rest is film history and makes for the ultimate Hollywood success story.
It’s interesting to mention that even though the country though of him as a hero, Murphy didn’t think of himself as one. In his book, Murphy modestly described some of his most heroic actions – without portraying himself as the hero. He did not mention any of the many decorations he received, but praised the skills, bravery, and dedication of the other members of his platoon. Murphy once said, “I never liked being called the “most decorated” soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did–guys who were killed.” To Hell and Back was Directed by Jesse Hibbs for Universal.
Things to look up (go to IMDB page):
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