Bitter Victory

Screening on Film
Directed by Nicholas Ray.
With Richard Burton, Curt Jurgens, Ruth Roman.
US, 1957, 35mm, black & white, 103 min.
Print source: Sony Pictures

Ray’s unerring talent for adapting himself to popular genres without compromising his singular artistic vision is crystallized in this harrowing war film, which abstracts WWII to the backdrop for a fraught drama between two soldiers, nominally on the same side but pitted against each other for their survival. Shooting in the starkest of black and white, Ray captures the barrenness of the vast, unrelentingly harsh desert that strips away the veneer of civilized behavior between the rivals. In extraordinary performances, Curt Jurgens unmasks the cowardice of his murderously jealous Major while Richard Burton, as a jaded soldier with a death wish, offers a frighteningly convincing portrayal of an agonized and conflicted mind. Aided by Ray’s inspired direction and Gavin Lampert’s taut screenplay, they create a searingly honest portrayal of two men engaged in a psychological duel.

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Nicholas Ray. Hollywood's Last Romantic

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