I was just watching Kelly’s Heroes and was struck by Clint Eastwood’s careful crafted coiffure. It struck me that in a lot of war films, the uniforms are pretty accurate but the hair cuts are all wrong. Mind you, in Kelly’s Heroes the uniforms aren’t as scruffy as real-life US soldiers fighting in Germany were. Now, I don’t know if the hair cut thing is down to a lack of interest in realism or actorly vanity. A brutal hair cut of the type inflicted on soldiers in the Second World War would not have looked good on Clint. More attention seems to be paid to hair cuts in more modern movies but they’ve pretty much stopped making Second World films, at least ones that don’t involve killing-Hitler fantasies. So, here’s a plea to anyone planning to make a “historic” war film; get the hair cuts right, doing that adds a lot to the feeling of time and place.
On the subject of war movies, I recently saw a really good one. It was an American one called Battleground and was about a platoon from the 101st Airborne during the Battle of Bulge. It was made in 1947, when a chunk of the audience would have been battle veterans and would have laughed much of the nonsense which followed in later years off of the screen. One of the sergeants even goes through the fighting wearing a greatcoat held closed with a giant safety pin. The film was nowhere near as gung-ho as I’d expected. In fact there was a lot of shirking and ambiguity in there.