The Red Badge of Courage: Movie Version

The Red Badge of Courage: Movie Version

ISBN 978-1-937714-02-4

Study Guide compares the book The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane to the movie The Red Badge of Courage
(1951) The black and white movie with Audie Murphy is still the most accurate. The movie takes a few liberties with characters and plot, but it’s basically the book on film.


THE MOVIE VERSION OF THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE

IS NOT LIKE THE BOOK by Stephen Crane

RECOMMENDED MOVIE: The Red Badge of Courage (1951) starring Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, John Dierkes, Royal Dano, Arthur Hunnicut, Tim Durant, Douglas Dick, Robert Easton Burke, and Andy Devine. Screenplay by John Huston. Directed by John Huston. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture. (Black and White)

WHAT’S IN THE BOOK THAT’S NOT IN THE MOVIE?
Jim Conklin washing his shirt at the brook, Henry’s mother, the argument between Conklin and Tom Wilson in Chapter I, the soldier’s attempt to steal a horse, the packet of letters, the lieutenant’s hand wound, the chapel-like scene with the dead soldier in the woods, the tattered soldier mistaking Henry for Tom Jamison, Chapter 11 (Henry contemplates running away from battle), Chapter 15 (Henry daydreams about returning from war and telling stories of combat), getting water for the dying Jimmie Rogers, “mud diggers” . . .

WHAT’S IN THE MOVIE THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOK?
Tom Wilson washing his shirt at the brook, Henry’s letter to his Pa, Bill Porter, Tim Foster, a soldier’s attempt to steal a pig, the pocket watch, Henry’s story about getting shot, the friendly general, Henry’s confession about running away . . .

WHAT’S THE SAME?
The rumor at the creek, Henry’s conversation with the Rebel soldier, Henry’s feelings of isolation and loneliness, Wilson’s bravado, Henry’s cowardice in battle, the tattered soldier, Jim Conklin’s death, Henry’s wound to the head, the cheerful soldier, Wilson’s change of attitude, Henry’s claim that he was fighting with another regiment on the right, Henry’s leading the battle charge, “mule drivers,” Henry’s change of attitude and finding peace at end . . .

THE MOVIE: SUMMARY
The following is a scene-by-scene comparison of the movie to the corresponding chapters in the book.

THE MOVIE: CHAPTER 1

Opening scene: Soldiers of the Union Army march behind mounted riders and wagons. (ERROR: Not in the book) The scene switches to a picture of the campsite above a river. (ACCURATE: This is the opening scene of the book)

The men constantly drill and march around the campground. (ACCURATE)

A soldier is washing his shirt in the river. He hears a rumor while there. The rumor is that tomorrow his regiment will attack from behind the Rebel Army camped across the river. (ACCURATE) This soldier is Tom Wilson. (ERROR: In the book this soldier is Jim Conklin) He runs back to the regiment and tells them the rumor he heard at the river. (ACCURATE)

One of the soldiers angrily confronts Wilson and calls him a liar. (ERROR: In the book it is Wilson who calls Jim Conklin a liar about the rumor) Many of the men begin to discuss the
rumor. (ACCURATE) Bill Porter says he does not understand why they have to march uphill instead of down. (CHARACTER ERROR: Bill Porter is not a character in the book)

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