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The Thin Red Line Reviews

Filmed on location in Spain, this adaption of the Jones novel takes place during the invasion of Guadalcanal in WW II. Dullea is a private who, fearful of dying in the conflict, pilfers a pistol for extra protection. Warden, Dullea's sergeant, has a character permanently scarred by war. He is bitter and sadistic, and he quickly develops an antipathy for Dullea. After Dullea kills a Japanese soldier, the young man is horrified, an attitude that increases Warden's animosity. The next day, after dreaming of his wife back home, Dullea wipes out an enemy machine gun nest. Although his fellow soldiers admire the private's courage, Warden sees through it, suspecting that Dullea is actually beginning to experience the same sadistic thrill that the older man does. Nonetheless, the rift between them still remains, even though the pair must work together to clear a dangerous gorge of explosive mines. While the operation is being carried out, the American troops are surprised by an enemy raid. With only a few members of the platoon left, the remaining Americans try to capture some caves that the Japanese machine gunners use as hideouts. These caves are atop a cliff that Dullea must climb in order to gain access to the desired position. Once there, the private discovers that the caves form an elaborate maze. Eventually his comrades join him, but once more the Japanese attack. Warden throws himself into the line of fire to save Dullea and, in the end, dies in the arms of the young man he so despised. Dullea and Warden are well-matched opposites. The younger man's keen intensity, fueled by his will to survive, provides a good balance to Warden's coolness, hardened by his experiences in the military. Marton's direction pumps into battle sequences the energy required for accurately capturing the mayhem and brutality of war. The film falters, though, in trying to do too much in too little running time. In adapting Jones's novel for the screen, Gordon neatly compacted whole scenes from the book, occasionally causing confusion. Motivations are often touched on superficially rather than probed into to show the psychology of men at war. The result is a good, though not entirely satisfactory, account of two men's journey through hell.