Battle Circus (1953) is a English movie. Richard Brooks has directed this movie. Humphrey Bogart,June Allyson,Keenan Wynn,Robert Keith are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1953. Battle Circus (1953) is considered one of the best Drama,Romance,War movie in India and around the world.
Nurse Lt. Ruth McGara is assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit near the front lines of the Korean War. There she meets and is roughly romanced by Major Jed Webbe, one of the unit's surgeons. Webbe is pushy and seems to care only for momentary pleasures, but McGara falls for him just the same. Their romance blossoms in the midst of overwhelming numbers of casualties, threats from the enemy and from the weather, and emergency evacuations that test the mettle of even a unit whose very name suggests quick mobility.
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The black and white photography, camera angles and editing of Battle Circus are top rate adding verisimilitude to an unusual story about medics during the Korean War. The dialog between Bogie and June is hard-boiled and cheesy and quite wonderful. It is entertaining to see a big-hearted 1950's female character (Allyson) deflecting an in-your-face, unapologetic wolf (Bogart) without need of feminist presumption, sexual harassment law and political correctness cops. With their distinct, defining and appealing faces and voices, both leads make the film's romance seem some what logical within the logic of 1950's Hollywood. It sure is fun watching them. And so too is a terrific Keenan Wynn and the mechanics and team work required to set up MASH units in a war zone. In the film, the tented hospitals were set up, taken down and hauled off and set up again by men and women who were clearly experienced in the service. The surgery tents and medical sequences in Battle Circus are sanitized compared to what one sees on television these days and what was depicted in the TV series M.A.S.H! Back then, the entertainment world respected the privacy of someone's innards particularly when their guts were spilling out of a body ripped by shrapnel.
Maybe if MGM had realized that a generation later, a comedy classic would be launched about a MASH unit in Korea, they might have opted for a more lighthearted treatment of the subject here. One of the other reviewers is of the opinion that Humphrey Bogart is acting like a sexist pig in this film. He certainly is, probably just as much a one as Hawkeye Pierce. The problem here is June Allyson who just ain't no Hotlips Hoolihan. She's terribly miscast here, what was needed was someone who could have fielded Bogey's passes with a smart wisecrack in the right place. Gee, Lauren Bacall would have been good casting here. The supporting cast is pretty good though with Robert Keith as the commander of the MASH unit and Keenan Wynn as the top sergeant in the place. MASH the television series always turned deadly serious in the operating room and the same here. Nice action sequences as well. Philip Ahn has a small bit as a frightened North Korean prisoner who gets a hold of a live grenade in the operating room. Interesting because it's one of the few times that very capable oriental actor actually played a Korean which was his ancestry. Humphrey Bogart just doesn't gel with June Allyson though. She would rather have had Van Johnson and of course Bogey would have had Betty if he had his druthers. So would have I.
While certainly NOT Maltese Falcon or To Have and Have Not, Battle Circus surprised me. The Film has a bad reputation for being on the lesser end of Bogart films, with the chemistry between Allyson and Bogart about as exciting as that of Liver and mashed potatoes... I didn't agree with this once I watched it... Sure, it had cheesy dialogue and the sort, but the relationship between Allyson and Bogie could only be described as "quirky". It was not a dull movie, plenty of great lines (and a surprising amount of alluding to sex...) and a fun atmosphere. The film could have been better, yes, but seeing Allyson and Bogart in a War film together was good enough for me. I won't even go into the storyline; that's unimportant, what is important was I enjoyed it. That's good enough for me.
"Battle Circus" is interesting to compare to the TV series M*A*S*H. On TV, the camp of the medicos was a little too clean, and the doctors, especially Hawkeye, were always a little too ready with a joke. The one-liners never stopped at the 4077th, and there were few characters, especially in the last few years, who were not ever-ready to spew out endless dreary puns galore. Battle Circus is interesting in that it shows, I imagine, a more sober and realistic view of life in a MASH unit. Because they are located near the ever shifting front of the Korean conflict, the MASH must constantly move with it. This brings out the greatest strength of this film: a large number of scenes in this movie are dedicated to showing the teamwork and bee-hive like energy of the grunts of the unit, taking tents down, putting tents up, moving the hospital here, then to there, often through or frighteningly near enemy fire, all the while dedicated to keeping their patients alive. The many minutes of film spent on these thankless and glory-less activities increases our appreciation of the realities of the soldiers' daily routine. Here, there are few luxuries (unlike on the TV MASH, where many of the characters seem to have as many possessions as the Howells did on Gilligan's Island). Conditions in the personal tents of the characters are especially Spartan. Bogie's only possession seems to be a bottle of Scotch. When there is no time to bring everything with them, the soldiers burn whatever they must leave behind. Again, the starkness of existence suggests to this viewer a wonder that not all of the MASH members didn't go insane on a regular basis. Now I am not a June Allyson fan, and while the romance between Bogie and her is not all that interesting or convincing, it is not a complete waste of film either. I don't believe I have ever seen Humphrey Bogart smile and laugh and be so un-pessimistic in a film before, and this is quite entertaining (Bogie even falls in the mud, losing his dignity, and laughs about it with June Allyson! Yikes!). There is no such thing as useless celluloid when Bogie is on screen. However, these episodes of light-hearted Bogie are surrounded by plenty of periods of brooding and cynical Bogie, so he is not completely out of character. Robert Keith's colonel with the high-pitched voice complements Bogie's doctor very nicely in their scenes together. Keenan Wynn is also a terrific surprise; I usually find his raspy voice and abrasive characters unpleasant, but here he plays perhaps the most likable character (a can-do sergeant) in the whole film. His affection for a wounded Korean boy has the potential to be hokey, but he pulls it off very nicely. One more MASH comparison. Bogie's character, like Hawkeye Pierce, is a woman-chaser and a man who wants no more authority than necessary, as well as a first rate surgeon. But unlike Hawkeye, who is afraid of guns, Humphrey Bogart is as willing to pick up a rifle and fire at the enemy as he is top pick up a scalpel. A real man's man. Don't expect Gone With the Wind, and you will find this a quite interesting and quirky little war film.
It's hard to believe that Richard Brooks (he of "In Cold Blood" and "The Professionals") directed this. Having coincidentally seen another Korean War film, "One Minute to Zero," immediately before this one, I can vouch for the fact that "Battle Circus" is a major improvement. However, that in itself is no great recommendation. Humphrey Bogart is his usual excellent self, professional and expert in his handling of the role of a MASH unit doctor. And June Allyson is endearing and fine in her role as the nurse who loves him. But despite the fact that plenty of screen romances have survived a greater age difference between couples than the 18 years that separates Bogart and Allyson, Bogart just comes off as uncomfortably old to be pulling the kind of shenanigans he tries with Allyson here. Never mind that in real life Bogart's fairy-tale romance with Lauren Bacall was between two people 25 years apart in age -- this is the movies, and at 53, Bogart seems slightly creepy, forcing his attentions on a young nurse and getting somewhat pissy when she dares to ask if he has a wife. Nonetheless the performances are good and occasionally overcome a difficult script (difficult not in complexity but in mediocrity). Robert Keith, who seems to have managed a long Hollywood career without ever varying his performances one whit, does what he always does as Bogart's commanding officer. Keenan Wynn is substantial and believable as the tough sergeant who keeps things running. But outside of a couple of intense moments (such as the one where a terrified North Korean soldier -- Philip Ahn -- threatens to blow up the operating room), the movie hovers like a helicopter over the no-man's land between drama and soap opera, unable quite to make up its mind where to set down.