Carl Foreman tells his tale of war in terms of vignettes, concentrating on homesickness, woman-hunger, civilian starvation, the ‘nice’ girls who shack up with the GI smoothies for food, cigarettes and kicks. One of these is played by Romy Schneider. Her indifference to the decent soldier (George Hamilton) and ultimate bumming around with the slicker is underplayed, but it’s part of the mosaic of the decent GI’s own ultimate hardening.
The story is properly told in black and white photography. Foreman has incorporated a lot of newsreel footage. He has designed his narrative with great filmmaking skill and considerable daring, recalling the early 1940s both for nostalgia and irony.
In general Foreman has had the wisdom to underplay his scenes, leave many an incident without the sequel which seems, but is not, mandatory. In his alter ego as adaptor he has taken his story from [the book The Human Factor by] an English writer, Alexander Baron, to whom all proper honor. There will be a plausible temptation to call this a director’s picture, which it is, but all is made possible in the end by a good script.