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Between Heaven and Hell (1956)

Robert Wagner , Terry Moore , Richard Fleischer  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Broderick Crawford, Buddy Ebsen, Robert Keith
  • Directors: Richard Fleischer
  • Writers: Francis Gwaltney, Harry Brown
  • Producers: David Weisbart
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 21, 2002
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063URX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,461 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Between Heaven and Hell" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A callow Southern aristocrat (the charismatically challenged Robert Wagner) acquires character and democratic values in the crucible of combat, via a laboriously complicated script that begins in the middle of things and then loads on explanatory flashbacks like a forklift. On "an island in the Pacific, 1945," the scion of a Tennessee cotton dynasty becomes not only comrade-in-arms but also friend to the sharecroppers he once scorned. Although the jungle island is crawling with Japanese snipers and patrols, the greatest danger comes from U.S. officers who are variously incompetent, "yellow," or--in the case of company commander Broderick Crawford--certifiably insane. Screenwriter Harry Brown wrote the World War II classic A Walk in the Sun 11 years earlier, but the characters here are a dull lot and the dialogue terminally flatfooted. However, director Richard Fleischer blocks his action scenes to take full advantage of the CinemaScope format. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Broderick Crawford and Buddy Ebsen star in this absorbing drama about a young, self-centered recruit who comes of age during WWII. Sam Gifford (Wagner) is a successful cotton planter who treats his sharecroppers as if they were little more than farm machinery. But during combat in the Pacific, as he sees "quality" people crack, endures life under a sadistic officer (Crawford), and learns true friendship, from a "cropper" (Ebsen), Gifford slowly discovers there's more to a person than social class and good breeding.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Dave
This highly underated war movie is one of the best of its kind, telling the story of a troubled young soldier, Sam Gifford (played by Robert Wagner), who's at war with himself as well as the enemy. He's outwardly cold to those around him, and for good reason: he's been busted from sergeant down to private for striking an officer. His old squad has been wiped out in a tragic accident, and he's been transfered to a new unit under the command of an insane captain (played by Broderick Crawford).

Through flashbacks we learn that Sam grew up in Tennessee (my home state) where he was the head of a cotton dynasty, which he commanded with an iron fist. His beautiful wife (played by Terry Moore) learns of this sinister, heartless side of him and they fight. Later her father (which is Sam's commanding officer) is killed on the same Pacific island as Sam, and he's furthur depressed. In his new unit under Broderick Crawford's command, he meets a cropper-turned-soldier (played by Buddy Ebsen) who befriends him and watches over him like a father would.

They become close friends, but their friendship is put to the test when they are stationed on an isolated hill with only a handful of troops to defend it against swarms of Japanese troops. In one deadly assault, all of the Americans are killed except for Sam and his friend, who is now wounded. Sam must then choose between trying to carry his wounded comrade through enemy lines, or trying to save himself. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say that this is one of the best war movies I've ever seen (and I've seen hundreds!).

The dvd has a great picture and sound quality, especially the sound.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Between Heaven and Hell March 1, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This war drama tells how a southern soldier changes from a class conscious snob and becomes a human being with the help of Buddy Ebsen. It shows in flashbacks how he used to be a ruthless plantation owner and how he treated his sharecroppers. Along comes WWII and realizes that in war, everybody is the same. His buddies all get killed due to the cowardice of an officer and Wagner almost kills him. He is courtmartial and sent to another unit and meets a psycho company commander played with gusto by Broderick Crawford. The platoon he is ordered to be with are sent up to relieve another platoon on this hill. They are attacked by a Japanese company and everyone is killed except Wagner and Ebsen, but Ebsen is wounded and Wagner must run back for help. Will he make it in time to rescue Ebsen? The movie was nominated for Original Score and if you look real hard, you will recognize Frank Gorshin, who later played the Joker on the TV version of Batman. Not the best war drama ever made, but is good nonetheless.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Between Heaven and Hell August 10, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a very effective psychological war film with a great performance by Broderick Crawford as the demented commander of a group of loose canons located in an isolated jungle outpost during W.W.II. Robert Wagner is ordered to the post for his transgressions and comes to terms with his own lack of humanity. This film contains one of Hugo Friedhofer's best scores. The stereo score on this VHS recording sounds excellent.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slipped right by us before we realized what we had January 27, 2005
By Richard
Bobby, we hardly knew ye....

If Hollywood cannot suppress a great concept and turn it into drivel before a film gets made, they often will find a way to do it after it has been released. Orson Welles learned this the hard way making Citizen Kane to his great pain, and could never get quite enough funding for any big film after that.

This is no Citizen Kane, nor will Robert Wagner ever, ever, be confused with Orson Welles. On the other hand, to call him un-charismatic?!? Not to a whole generation of girls in the 50's and 60's, including my sweetie. Not to mention to a whole generation of guys who wanted to be like him.

As a war film, it is way above the cut and cannot be written off too easily after viewing. I esteem it as much as Hell Is For Heroes with Steve McQueen or Attack! with Jack Palance. Films that stood out from the fodder, and were rarely duplicated if ever. Why this one never got respect, I am too young to have heard, and at this point, there is a whole new generation who will get to see, and perhaps appreciate it.

I saw this film many years ago on TV and I never quite forgot it, for many reasons, and I have been dying to see it released on DVD.

The other reviews on this site give a decent summation of the plot, but the truth of the film goes deeper. Buddy Ebson as a sharecropper gives a slyly informed humanity to people we all have driven by when we saw them (barely) working in the fields, or else cleaning our offices, or in our kitchens.

Broderick Crawford so typifies the insanity of war, where we can find ourselve in situations without a rulebook, yet not knowing the rules means death.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Gifford (Robert Wagner) plays a Southern landowner who treats his croppers badly... His beautiful wife Jenny (Terry Moore) just saw a side of him she never saw before... Gifford argues that Jenny has just seen his business side... But Gifford only came to realize the error of his rude ways when he was called to active duty and put among the troops in the Pacific theater in World War II...

The film opens with Gifford reassigned to a company posted up in the hills, a very isolated area under the command of a fanatical and probably queer army captain called Waco (Broderick Crawford).

With brief flashbacks, we discover that Gifford holds a well-earned Silver Star but one day, his emotions became dominant and his self-control completely lost when he assaults an officer in combat nearly killing him...

The attempt of Gifford-- seen to get a little shaky in combat--to master danger as far as to walk right along with the enemy, or not to leave the island without saving a wounded pal, hit the core of what must have happened on battlefields in World War II...

Aside from a beachhead landing and a final battle with the Japanese, Fleisher's film shockingly touches on the US officers martyred at the hands of Japanese snipers...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Between Heaven and Hell 31/2
I enjoyed the movie a lot, I would rate it at 3 and a half stars. The story shows how when in combat their is a bond that is stronger than families, in fact you are FAMILY!!! Read more
Published 13 days ago by John Muckley
4.0 out of 5 stars WOW
I saw this movie when I was 12 years old -- it took me back to that time -- life was simple.
Published 1 month ago by Hank Robison
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic War Film
This film has an excellent cast, but the story is told with a series of awkward flashbacks that give it
an uneven feel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sky Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, excellent cast.
Very good story, great acting. Robert Wagner does a superb job at playing his part(dont want to spoil the movie by saying too much). Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael Eldridge
5.0 out of 5 stars A hell of a movie
Great war movie. Robert Wagner , Buddy Ebson, Broderick Crawford, all in top notch form. A classic, that demands to be seen.
Published 9 months ago by James M. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Between Heaven and Hell
I really liked this movie, because it shows how war can change people and the way that power in the hands of the wrong people can corrupt them.
Published 11 months ago by Al C
2.0 out of 5 stars Trite war movie
I've been watching war movies for 62 years. This one is a clear two-star and no more. Poor acting, weak plot, and trite war scenes. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Peter R. Dinella
3.0 out of 5 stars Between Heaven & Hell
An OK war film to fill in a collection with a better than average plot
Published on May 18, 2010 by Anonymous
Published on February 17, 2010 by J. shop
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Wagner as I'll always remember him...
I saw this movie as a youngster....I'm only 6o now... but it was still a really good action movie with great performances from all. Read more
Published on December 26, 2009 by J Book
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