To Hell and Back (1955)

To Hell and Back (1955)

“Feisty pup, isn’t he?”

Poor young Texan Audie Murphy (playing himself) initially struggles to get accepted into the armed forces, but soon becomes a decorated war hero.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Audie Murphy Films
  • Biopics
  • Soldiers
  • World War II

This Technicolor adaptation of Audie Murphy’s 1949 autobiography is an earnest if by-the-books depiction of how Murphy came to receive “every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism” — all by the age of 19 (!).

As the film opens, we see young Audie (Gordon Gebert) offering to quit school and work to help support his single mother (Mary Field) and large share-cropping family in Texas:

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Murphy tries without luck to enter into the Navy and Marine Corps before finally being accepted into the Army.

Once he’s out on the battlefields of North Africa, Italy, and France, Murphy (who, for the record, was loathe to portray himself on film) quickly shows himself to be humble, beloved, and exceedingly brave:

As noted in the New York Times’ original review of this film, it “has the twin virtues of truth and Audie Murphy to support it” — and audiences at the time apparently agreed, making it Universal Studios’ top-grossing movie until Jaws (1975). Be sure to read TCM’s article for additional insights into the making of this film, as well as Murphy’s response.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • A fine tribute to Murphy’s modest heroism

Must See?
No; while it’s worth a look for its historical relevance, this one is only must-see for Murphy fans.


One thought on “To Hell and Back (1955)

  1. Not must-see and agreed: “while it’s worth a look for its historical relevance, this one is only must-see for Murphy fans.” ~or those curious about his story.

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