"Sergeant York" (1941) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #91 Gem Mint 10.0


“Sergeant York“ (1941)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Abel Finkel (Original Screenplay), Harry Chandlee (Original Screenplay), Howard Koch (Original Screenplay), John Huston (Original Screenplay), Alvin C. York (based upon) , Tom Skeyhill (diary editor), Sam Cowan (uncredited)

Starring: Gary Cooper, Joan Leslie, Walter Brennan, Margaret Wycherly, George Tobias, Dickie Moore, June Lockhart

Rated: Passed (I would say PG, maybe PG-13 for some war violence)

Runtime: 2h min

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Country: USA

Language: English | French | German


"A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes."


You might like this if you like: Gary Cooper, Old Movies, Classic Movies, Action, Westerns, Biographies, War Flicks, Dramas, Historical Films, Joan Leslie, Walter Brennan, World War I Movies, Epics


Gary Cooper in "Sergeant York" (1941)


I first heard about "Sergeant York" (1941) only recently, when I was asking my fiance, Rachel’s, grandma what her favorite film was. After her dad told me how much he liked that one too, I felt it was finally time to kick back and watch this sweeping epic tale.


I could tell it was an instant classic, wishing I had discovered this years ago. I watched this by myself on a large theater screen and was just lost in the story and mesmerized by the images. Sometimes you need a classic Hollywood film every once in a while in your diet. Preferably more, but in watching this I had realized it had been quite a while since I’d last seen an old 40s epic.


Gary Cooper (left) & Joan Leslie (right) in "Sergeant York" (1941)


Director Howard Hawks had always been a favorite (“His Girl Friday” 1940, “Scarface” 1932, among others) and was pleasantly surprised when I saw his name in the opening credits. Sorry, I probably should've mentioned that I didn’t know anything story wise or about the film going in other than it starred Gary Cooper and was a World War I picture. Enough to get me intrigued. On top of Rachel’s family’s approval as well. Big Western fans over there. 24/7 on the TV. They school me everytime I try and guess what program’s on. It’s great.


Back to “York”, based on the true story of Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated US soldiers of World War I, the film went on to win Best Actor (Gary Cooper) and Best Film Editing (William Holmes) at the 14th Academy Awards in 1941 including a few nominations along the likes of Best Picture only losing to “How Green Was My Valley” (1941). Hawks was rightly nominated too, at least in my opinion.


Walter Brennan (left) & Gary Cooper (right) in "Sergeant York" (1941)


I wasn’t strongly familiar with Gary Cooper’s work, at least recently, so seeing him in this felt pretty fresh in terms of a re-introduction for me. Fell in love with his silliness and calm cool. I fell in love with York’s loss of way and his struggle finding that ambition. Finding himself. Almost as much as I fell in love with Joan Leslie. What a star. Walter Brennan returns for me in another favorite old man role (see “Rio Bravo” 1959 review). George Tobias was a scene stealer for sure. His auctioneer-like delivery of dialogue is insane. Clear as a day and sharp wit.


I’m a sucker for marksman films, as I have a history in a sponsored “Call of Duty” Quickscoping / Trickshotting career, and would devour sniper movies (“Enemy at the Gates” 2001, “Shooter” 2007, “Saving Private Ryan” 1998) whenever I could get a chance. I once thought Brad Pitt was the first to quickscope / noscope in “World War Z” (2013) but I think Gary Cooper beat him by about 80 years. My bad, Pitt.


Gary Cooper in "Sergeant York" (1941)


A wonderful, classic tale of adventure, action, romance and finding that thing keeps you going. A World War Western of the Ages. Might be a new all time favorite. Wish I had found this one sooner. Love how it can connect three different generations. The magic of movies. It truly is a language that can connect us. Thanks VoVo & Ryan!


Written by Sam Gall on 03/01/21


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"The story, human and real, achieves an unsurpassed artistic relief, recounted with sobriety and simplicity." - Elena de la Torre, Cine-Mundial


"Even given a nest of flaws, the basic arc works beautifully: Cooper's abashed, aw-shucks demeanor is a perfect fit for the part." - Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy


"The breathless pace, the good script, and the mostly fine performances made me more forgiving of the dated aspects of this film. Overall, though, it's Gary Cooper's film." - Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies


"Clearly American wartime propaganda...but Cooper's understated performance grounds the film and delivers some solid emotional moments in a film that desperately needs some tightening." - Matthew Lucas, From the Front Row



Official Trailer:


Behind the Scenes:


Available on various VOD platforms


#SergeantYork #GaryCooper #JoanLeslie #SamGallMovieReviews #FilmReviews #MovieReviews #ClassicMovies

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