The Red Badge of Courage
Based on Stephen Crane’s novel, a young soldier faces his first battles during the Civil War and during the experience finds his courage.
In the spring of 1862 Union soldiers drill each day. A rumor spreads that they are going to march and attack the Rebs from behind. Young Henry (Audie Murphy) is afraid he will flee. That night while on sentry duty he hears a Reb warn him to step back out of the moonlight, and he does.
The next day they march toward combat. Henry asks the confident Tom Wilson (Bill Mauldin) if he is going to run. They advance in the woods. Some men dig holes, but Bill Porter (Arthur Hunnicutt) says he will fight standing up. A colonel orders them to hold the road during a battle. Tom fears he will die and gives his watch to Henry to send to his folks. The Lieutenant (Douglas Dick) tells them they have to hold. Rebs approach, and they are ordered to fire. After a while the Rebs retreat. Henry feels better and helps a wounded soldier. The Rebs charge, and their regiment is over-run. Henry runs away alone without his rifle. He hears the General (Tim Durant) gives orders and celebrate that they held. Henry envies the wounded their red badges of courage. Henry tries to help tall Jim (John Dierkes) walk until he dies.
Henry questions men running away and is knocked down. At night a cheery soldier (Andy Devine) joins Henry and helps him find his regiment. Henry tells Tom that he was shot in the head, and he gives his watch back.
The next day they march, and Henry talks bravely. Cannons fire. In the battle Henry advances and shoots, but he is called back to the line by the Lieutenant. Henry and Tom hear the General plan to send in their regiment. The General talks to the men and then orders the attack to start. They advance, and some men fall. Henry cheers them on and takes up a flag. They fight the Reb cavalry and charge. Henry captures a Rebel flag. They hold prisoners from Tennessee, and Bill says they are from Ohio. Thompson (Robert Easton) tells how the officers praised Henry and Tom. Henry confess to Tom that he ran yesterday. Tom also admits that the captain had to make him stay.
The next day their regiment is order to fall in. Tom and Henry listen to the birds as they march.
This realistic drama portrays a young soldier confronting his doubts and fears during his first experiences in combat. He is socialized by those around him into participating in the carnage. The folly and violence of war is contrasted to the beauty of the natural surroundings.