THE NAKED AND THE DEAD REVIEWED
“The Naked and the Dead” has one my favorite movie performances of the 1950s. L.Q. Jones kills as redneck Wilson. Sure, I get the fan appreciation for Aldo Ray and Joey Bishop in the movie. But, there is something about L.Q. Jones’ performance that undercuts the Norman Mailer source material. It’s just that undercutting the violence of war is kinda the point of source material. Hell, it’s what makes the decision to have Raoul Walsh shoot the movie look so weird in retrospect.
Norman Mailer is your classic East Coast Egghead who would brutally miss the point with essays such as The White Negro, yet turn around and give the world something as amazing as The Village Voice. When his attention was turned to bigger subjects, you could get anything from Maidstone to The Naked and the Dead or even Tough Guys Don’t Dance. Whenever you’re feeling scatter-brained, make sure to pick up some Mailer work to feel better about yourself.
Back to the film, “The Naked and the Dead” is a war movie as in “Mad Men” was a show about marketing techniques in the 1960s. It comes up from time-to-time, but this is the film equivalent of Boys’ Life for random lay-abouts dreaming of something bigger. Not only are these GI Joes fighting and drinking moonshine, they are also having their way with women and spending a chunk of their time in glorious flashback. Their life was greater before, during and after the War. So what?
Well, that’s just it. It was one of the last major RKO movies for a reason. The studio didn’t have that great of access to material before it became caught in the first content merger wars. Now, this movie sits with probably the best restoration job I have ever seen for this film. I can safely say that you can upgrade from DVD without a care in the world. But, most of you won’t have owned this prior. It’s an oddball war movie framed by a disconnected intellectual’s concerns with what war means to the Western male. This is the kind of material that births Liberal Arts students into full cardigan wearing Film professors.
- 2.35:1 1080p transfer
- DTS-HD 2.0 MONO
RELEASE DATE: 8/28/18
The Plot Thus Far
Norman Mailer’s classic comes to the big screen courtesy of Raoul Walsh (Objective, Burma!, High Sierra) and an ensemble of seasoned acting vets and fresh-faced up-and-comers. Raymond Massey and Cliff Robertson play officers whose opposing views on military leadership are the two poles upon which a platoon’s fate is stretched within war of the Pacific. Massey’s Gen. Cummings advocates fear to best goad men to face death, whereas Robertson’s Lt. Hearn vehemently disagrees. Hearn is hard-pressed, however, to find the better nature within the sadistic Sgt. Croft (Aldo Ray), whose own war-time ethos seems to be pure hatred. Pounded inside this crucible are the men of the platoon, pals Roth (Joey Bishop) and Goldstein (Jerry Paris), scout Martinez (Henry Amargo), medic Ridges (James Best), older vet Red (Robert Gist), southern Cpl. Wilson (L. Q. Jones), nerve-case Minetta (Greg Roman) and new father Gallagher (Richard Jaeckel). Walsh’s stark vision of the dark heart of a man – at war even while at peace – commands our attention on this combat ready crystal-clear HD transfer on Blu-ray.
Fans can purchase at www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive or any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.