Movie Review: Sergeant York (1941)

Synopsis: Alvin York, a poor young farmer in Tennessee, aspires to upgrade his status by buying a piece of more fertile farmland and begins to see his fortunes change for the better when he finds religion. When the United States enters World War I and he is drafted, Alvin attempts to get an exemption as a conscientious objector but has his request denied, forcing him to serve overseas, where his sharpshooting skills make him a war hero.

Who's in it? The movie stars Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, Stanley Ridges and George Tobias.

Review: I had some free time on Memorial Day and, mostly because I had never seen it before, decided to give this movie a try. Overall, while there were some things I wasn't a huge fan of, I could understand why this film was a classic.

In all honesty, I don't know enough about the real Alvin York to tell you what was real in this movie and what was pure fiction but I did like how the movie gave the title character a solid character arc, starting with York being a drunken brawler, having him transition to a peaceful, religious person and, ultimately, had him combine the two when in combat.

Yes, some of the scenes were definitely played up for dramatic effect, especially when he's on a mountain, grappling with his beliefs and the Bible happens to open to a verse that allows him to make a decision. But, I do think the film also kept most things low key enough to still be believable.

My biggest complaint about this film was, for a war movie, there really wasn't a whole lot of it that took place on the battlefield. There was just the one battle he was most famous for and the film sends him home right after. The rest of the movie is decent without a lot of action but it did feel as though someone edited out a big chunk of his life and it seemed kind of short as a result.

Final Opinion: It's a good movie, especially if you're into inspirational films. I just think it might have been slightly better had it spent more time discussing his time in Europe so it didn't feel like he had only been gone a week before coming back a hero.

My Grade: B+


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