Home of the Brave Blu-ray Review
“Not so very long ago, the great many Americans were asked by their government to take over a vast number of islands in the Pacific Ocean. This is the story behind one incident in that war, one island, one American.”
That American is Private Peter Moss (James Edwards, who made his debut the same year in THE SET-UP), who has paralysis from the knees down and partial amnesia. The doctor (Jeff Corey, whose career slowed drastically after being blacklisted in the 1950s) wants to know how Moss came onboard the mission and so consults two of his comrades, Major Robinson (Douglas Dick, Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE) and Sergeant Mingo (Frank Lovejoy, 1953’s THE HITCH-HIKER), who agree to fill in the blanks. Cue the flashbacks.
Robinson tells his men that the task—to land on and explore a Japanese-held island—won’t be an easy one but will worth doing. There’s some grumbling that Moss, a black man, will be the surveyor on the team. Some of those involved seem more disturbed by sharing a boat with a black man than potentially losing their lives, despite good word from Finch (Lloyd Bridges), a college friend.
The story is one that needed to be told in 1949, but today, 65 years after HOME OF THE BRAVE’s release, the film comes off as plain, obvious and dimensionless. There are moments that perhaps came off as more troubling when the film premiered, as when Moss awakens and starts screaming for his lost friend or when he goes on a tirade about his youth, but modern audiences will find them over-the-top and laughable.
It’s easy to imagine that HOME OF THE BRAVE would have been more relevant in 1949—it was even nominated at the Writers Guild of America Awards for the now- Robert Meltzer Award (Screenplay Dealing Most Ably with Problems on the American Scene) (it lost to ALL THE KING’S MEN)—but it just doesn’t work in these times.
This isn’t the fault of director Mark Robson or screenwriter Carl Foreman, who were obviously making a film for that day’s viewer—the film merely fell victim to change. That said, Robson (whose diverse works include Boris Karloff vehicle BEDLAM, essential film noir THE HARDER THEY FALL and disaster flick EARTHQUAKE) and Foreman (whose most prominent works include 1949’s CHAMPION, 1952’s HIGH NOON and 1957’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, for which he posthumously won the Academy Award) are still at fault for many of the film’s issues that have been present for the past six decades.
The structure is unstable, as it randomly jumps from moments of war and chaos to quiet ones in the bunkers, and the screenplay, adapted from Arthur Laurents’ play (which originally featured a Jewish character in the Moss role, showing just how keen Foreman was on making the story more relatable to cinemagoers) is sophomoric, with few (if any) developed ideas on racism.
HOME OF THE BRAVE is an uncompelling and dated work that does less to shame bigotry than it does simplify it and its effects.
HOME OF THE BRAVE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.33:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is an extremely weak high-definition transfer of HOME OF THE BRAVE that is littered with scratches, dirt and other major disturbances. While the film is 65 years old and it’s expected that some wear will be present, it’s clear Olive Films put very little effort in the transfer.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The audio transfer lacks depth, but the audio, sound effects and Dimitri Tiomkin’s score are all clear enough.
There are no special features on this release.