The Victors (1963)
Director: Carl Foreman
Actors: Vince Edwards, Albert Finney, George Hamilton
Runtime: 150 min (175?)
This movie follows a group of American soldiers through different European battlefields in World War II: Italy, France, Belgium, Germany. It is composed of several short stories that share the same theme and characters, divided by sequences of actual newsreels from the war. This creates a very strong contrast between the stories served to the movie theatre audiences at home in which the soldiers were portrayed as optimistic heroes and the dark reality: brutal conditions, exhaustion, depression, futility, sexual exploitation, the black market, war profiteers…
It was made at the time when Second World War movies were still big-budget epics, with an atmosphere of heroism and optimism very similar to the wartime newsreels, and most of the action was limited to battle-scenes. In this film, the focus is on daily life, moreover there are no combat scenes, and short stories complement each other to create an atmosphere of pervasive emptiness and quiet desperation. A few weeks after its release the movie was briefly withdrawn to be modified, abridged and virtually censored. As far as I know, the original uncut version of the movie is still not available.
You can download this film or watch it online.