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To Hell and Back Reviews

Audie Murphy was America's most decorated soldier of WW II, winning more than 20 medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, while fighting in North Africa, Italy, France, Germany, and Austria--all before the age of 19. These accomplishments brought Murphy to the attention of Hollywood, and he starred in a number of B westerns throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s. A marginal actor at best, Murphy spent several years doing quickie oaters, until he was given a shot at the big time in John Huston's THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951). Finally, in 1955, Murphy starred as himself in the film adaptation of his own best-selling autobiography, To Hell and Back. Given a big-budget, Technicolor, CinemaScope presentation, the film traces Murphy from his hardworking origins as the son of Texas sharecroppers to his rejection by both the Marines and the Navy because of his youth. Eventually Murphy is accepted by the Army, proving to be a courageous natural leader, rising through the ranks to lieutenant and company commander, and killing some 240 of the enemy in the process. The script is loaded with cliches and the direction is lackluster, but despite such flaws there is a certain amount of interest in watching the rather awkward Murphy re-create some of the most dramatic events of his own life. In the 1960s, Murphy suffered several personal and career setbacks, including problems with alcohol and drugs, and a charge of attempted murder stemming from a barroom brawl. In 1971 he was killed in a small plane crash along with five others.