Sergeant York | Chicago Reader

Sergeant York

The “true” story of Alvin York, a backwoods pacifist who became one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I, provides a shaky basis for one of Howard Hawks's few less-than-successful films. For once, Hawks is dealing with the sort of abstract social issues much better left to superficial talents like Stanley Kramer or Fred Zinnemann. The first half is quite good, documenting York's rural upbringing with great simplicity and charm. But the second part—the war—degenerates quickly and grotesquely (cf the “turkey shoot” finale).

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