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