Saunders learns that his hero and role-model has feet of clay. Sergeant Avery,
thought killed in action at St. Lo, shows up alive and well, and must clear himself of
suspicion of desertion. With Saunders at his side, Avery makes a journey of discovery
about himself and about what it takes to be a frontline soldier.
In "The Gift of Hope," Saunders will not listen to
Kirby's accusation that Avery had deserted under fire. Just not possible. Not the man that
Saunders' infused with his trust. But when Avery appears before Saunders, alive and well,
the stern moralizer goes cold, announcing that he wished his friend his hero
had died, rather than be revealed as a coward.
Though the story takes awhile to get revving, once up to speed it
is incredibly strong. Rip Torn offers a fine performance as Avery. "A Gift of
Hope" is one of Morrow's best performances. The difficult scene where Avery walks a
wounded Saunders back to the aid station is moving. The bulk of that act is a monologue.
Morrow says nothing, but viewers know exactly what he is thinking about Avery's pained
confessions. Jack Hogan also gives a strong performance as a Kirby out for revenge, and
Rick Jason's Hanley walks the tightrope between duty and friendship. Bernard McEveety
provides fine direction plus some great night-time battle scenes.
Anthony Wilson's script provides revelations into the psyche of a
frontline soldier. Avery's undoing was not the fear of battle, or the terror of dying, it
was the most terrible gift the hard-core veteran could imagine: hope.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- Saunders again without his own knife, he must borrow
- R.H.I.P. Saunders is the only one in the cellar
quarters with a real bed.
Clay Pigeons of St. Lo -
account of the infantry battle for St. Lo.
by Glover S. Johns (Paperback)
Originally published in 1958 and now available for the first time in paperback, this
classic of modern military history tells the exciting true story of the fall of St. Lo,
the first major objective of the invading American armies in Normandy in June of 1944.
Although St. Lo was intended to be taken within days of the landing, stubborn German
resistance postponed the town's fall until July 18. The author describes the bloody action
that took place in the thirty days in between as he led his battalion dubbed "The
Indestructible Clay Pigeons" through the daunting combat.
About the Author
Col. Glover S. Johns, Jr., was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Class of
1931. In 1943, while serving as Military Attache in Costa Rica, he applied for an
assignment in the European theater, where he served with the 29th Infantry Division. Johns
was awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star, each with Oak Leaf Cluster, as well as the
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Rip Torn as Avery
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Conlan Carter as Doc
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Malcolm Brodrick as Jimmy
Joe Allen Price as Larkin
Robert Yuro as Vitelli
Anthony Eisley as Lt. Gates