The Red Badge Of Courage Analysis

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Picture by Lillian Ross follows the making of the 1951 film The Red Badge of Courage. Ross, a friend of director John Huston, set out with the purpose “to learn whatever [she] might learn about the American motion picture industry” (Ross, 1952, p. 7). Ross’ work begins with a brief introduction to some of the key characters, including Huston, studio executive Louis B. Mayer, producer Gottfried Reinhardt, and a studio vice president named Dore Schary. Ross quickly sets up the conflict involved in the making of the movie, one with a now notoriously troubled production and mediocre box office receipts. She describes how Huston faced some difficulty getting people at Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) to greenlight the picture. The novel the film is based on has “no story,” Mayer consistently bemoans. Aside from the lack of conventional plot, Huston also plans to cast no stars in the film, further hurting its chances of turning a profit. After setting up this initial conflict and how she gained entry onto this project, the book dives some of the work that went into the movie’s pre-production. Ross details the casting of the film’s star Audie Murphy, a war hero who never acted before The Red Badge of Courage, along with the rest of…show more content…
In doing so, he makes it something drastically different than what Huston envisioned. The film is released to mostly positive reviews but becomes a box office flop. The denouement of the book tells how the principal characters went on with their lives after The Red Badge of Courage – Reinhardt became a director, Schary got promoted after Mayer retired, etc. – and how those on the business side of things viewed the film. Ross reveals that the biggest boss in the company only approved the movie because he wanted to teach Schary a lesson, namely that movies like The Red Badge of Courage aren’t going to make money and should not be
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