Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sergeant York

A rowdy backwoods yokel (Gary Cooper), notorious for his raucous ways, sees a vision from God, vows a life of pacifism, and seeks to fulfill his dream of marrying a radiant local (Joan Leslie) and farming a small plot of land in Daniel Boone country, Tennessee. Then World War I arrives and after failed attempts to challenge his draft status as a a conscientious objector and subsequent mockery from his fellow servicemen, he goes on to become one of the most decorated soldiers in American history. Howard Hawks' Sergeant York is an awfully sluggish and corny (although the second half is a marked improvement),  purportedly undoctored biopic which earned an Oscar for Cooper and his aww shucks hillbilly approach. My biggest problem with the film is evident in the contradiction of York's historic siege when the great, gentle pacifist, with big, glazed over eyes, seems to be taking great delight ("just like turkeys") in picking off vulnerable enemy combatants.