Sergeant York

Sergeant York

name = Sergeant York

caption = Movie poster
director = Howard Hawks
writer = Harry Chandlee
Abem Finkel
John Huston
Howard Koch
starring = Gary Cooper
Walter Brennan
producer = Howard Hawks
Jesse L. Lasky
Hal B. Wallis
distributor = Warner Brothers
cinematography = Sol Polito
released = July 2 1941 (USA)
runtime = 134 minutes
language = English
budget = $2,000,000 [cite web |url= |title=Notes for Sergeant York (1941) |publisher=TCM |accessdate=2008-07-25]
imdb_id = 0034167
:"For the unsuccessful U.S. weapon system, see M247 Sergeant York.""Sergeant York" is a 1941 biographical film about the life of Alvin York, the most-decorated American soldier of World War I. It was directed by Howard Hawks and was the highest-grossing film of the year.

The movie was adapted by Harry Chandlee, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Howard Koch, and Sam Cowan (uncredited) from the diary of Alvin York as edited by Tom Skeyhill. The real York was originally against the idea of making a movie of his experiences, but relented when World War II broke out, on the condition that Gary Cooper play him. [cite web |url= |title=Sergeant York Review |publisher=Allmovie |accessdate=2008-07-25]

Cooper went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal. The film also won for Best Film Editing and was nominated in nine other categories, including Best Picture, Director (Hawks), Supporting Actor (Walter Brennan), and Supporting Actress (Margaret Wycherly). The American Film Institute ranked the film 57th in the its 100 most inspirational American movies. It also rated Alvin York 35th in its list of the top 50 heroes in American cinema.


Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a poor Tennessee hillbilly, is an exceptional marksman, but a ne'er-do-well prone to drinking and fighting, which doesn't make things any easier for his patient mother (Margaret Wycherly). He undergoes a religious awakening and turns his life around, assisted by Pastor Rosier Pile (Walter Brennan).

When York is drafted into the army for World War I, he tries to get out as a conscientious objector due to his religious beliefs, but a sympathetic commanding officer persuades him to stay. York decides to leave it in God's hands, but still doubts he can kill someone who has not done him any harm. During basic training, his superiors find out that he is a phenomenal marksman and promote him to corporal.

His unit is shipped out to Europe and participates in an attack. Pinned down by German fire and seeing his friends being shot down all around him, his self-doubt disappears. Owing to the large number of casualties, York suddenly finds himself placed in charge. He works his way around behind German lines and shoots with such deadly effect that the Germans surrender. Then, York forces a captured German officer (Charles Esmond) at gunpoint to order the Germans still fighting to surrender. He and the handful of other survivors end up with 132 prisoners. York becomes a national hero and is awarded the Medal of Honor.

York later explains that he did what he did to hasten the end of the war and minimize the killing.


*Gary Cooper as Alvin York. Henry Fonda, James Stewart, and even Ronald Reagan were all considered for the role, but the real York insisted on Cooper.
*Walter Brennan as Pastor Rosier Pile
*Joan Leslie as Gracie Williams, York's girlfriend
*George Tobias as "Pusher" Ross, a soldier from New York City; Alvin's friend
*Stanley Ridges as Major Buxton, the kindly officer who convinces York to stay in the army
*Margaret Wycherly as Mother York

Academy Awards

The film won two Academy Awards:
*Best Actor - Gary Cooper
*Best Film Editing - William Holmes

It was also nominated for:
*Best Picture
*Best Director - Howard Hawks
*Best Supporting Actor - Walter Brennan
*Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Margaret Wycherly
*Best Writing, Original Screenplay - Harry Chandlee, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Howard Koch
*Best Cinematography, Black-and-White - Sol Polito
*Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture - Max Steiner
*Best Sound, Recording
*Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White


The actual firearm used by York to dispose of a line of seven Germans was not a Luger as depicted in the film, but rather a 1911 .45 ACP automatic. The Luger was preferred for the filmmaking, however, purely on the basis that it proved impossible to get the .45 to fire blanks. Also, the movie utilizes a Springfield 1903 rifle, whereas York actually used an M1917 Enfield rifle.


External links

*tcmdb title|id=1386|title=Sergeant York
* [ Sergeant York And His People] , by Sam Cowan, 1922, from Project Gutenberg
* [ Alvin York and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive] , by Douglas Mastriano, Military History magazine, Sept 2006. (Corporal York's actions as seen from the German perspective.)
* [ Photos and details of the discovery of the site where York earned the Medal of Honor] , Discovered 21 October 2006 by the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition.
* [ International Herald Tribune article announcing the discovery of where York earned the Medal of Honor] .
* [ Medal of Honor Recipients Portrayed on Film]

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