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To Hell And Back

To Hell And BackWant to see a genuine hero in action?
  The highest-grossing Universal film
  for twenty years (until Jaws) comes to
  DVD with Audie Murphy starring as
  himself in the film of his autobiography
  To Hell And Back

DURING WORLD WAR II, a baby-faced eighteen-year-old fought for his country to become the most decorated American war hero. Audie Murphy's true story is told in his autobiography To Hell And Back, made into a film by Universal in 1955.

A true-life account of World War II during which Audie's incredible courage and valour in action is revealed, To Hell And Back opens with General Walter Bedell Smith (the Senior Staff Officer at Supreme Headquarters in World War II) summing up the bravery of the foot soldier and stating that "Audie L Murphy received every decoration for valour that his country could award".

The film follows Murphy from his difficult childhood (Gordon Gebert plays the young Audie) in 1937. The eldest boy in a poor Texan family with an absent father, he leaves school early to work to support his younger siblings and his sick mother. When he enlists at 18 (in fact he was just sixteen but his sister had altered his birth certificate for him so he could enlist*), it is the beginning of a remarkable military career that ultimately earns him the Congressional Medal of Honour.

Modest and unassuming, Audie is a natural leader who takes on responsibility readily. Nicknamed "Little Texas", he quickly rises through the ranks as the US army is shipped out to Tunisia, North Africa, before securing Sicily to give the Allies a base of operation.

As the soldiers advance through Italy, France and into Germany, the going gets tougher and the Allies suffer heavy losses. Due to his unswerving courage and loyalty, Audie is made Corporal and then Sergeant before becoming Company Commander.

It was for his outstanding bravery in the face of heavy German bombardment in 1945 that Audie was awarded the Medal Of Honour. Despite his injuries, the foot soldier jumped onto a burning, abandoned tank and successfully repelled the enemy with the tank's machine gun, single-handedly saving his company.

In this superb classic film highlighting the exploits of a genuine war hero, talented actor Audie Murphy plays his courageous self as he leads his men along the perilous road To Hell And Back.

The film also features: Marshall Thompson as Johnson; Charles Drake as Brandon (Audie's best friend Latte Tipton); Jack Kelly as Kerrigan; Gregg Palmer as Lt Manning; Paul Picerni as Valentino; David Jansen as Lieutenant Lee; Richard Castle as Kovak; Bruce Cowling as Captain Marks; Paul Langton as Colonel Howe; Art Aragon as Sanchez; Felix Noriego as Swope; Denver Pyle as Thompson; Brett Halsey as Sanders; Susan Kohner as Maria; Anabel Shaw as Helen; Mary Field as Mrs Murphy; and Julian Upton as Steiner.

To Hell And Back was Written for the screen by Gil Doud, based on the Audie Murphy biography of the same name; Director of Photography is Maury Gersman asc; Assistant Director is Tom Shaw; Music Supervision is by Joseph Gershenson; Produced by Aaron Rosenberg; and directed by Jesse Hibbs. The song Dogfaced Soldier Words and Music by Bert Gold and Ken Hart.

The much-lauded biopic To Hell And Back is released for the first time on UK DVD, courtesy of Second Sight Films, on 30 November 2009. RRP: £15.99 | Running Time: 102 Minutes | Catalogue Number: 2NDVD3170.

"In this superb classic film highlighting the exploits of a genuine war hero, talented actor Audie Murphy plays his courageous self as he leads his men along the perilous road To Hell And Back" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"The stuff of heroism… the explosive fury of combat and, occasionally, the terror and loneliness of men exposed to sudden death" — The New York Times

"Audie's the real deal. Action from start to finish, shot in glorious Technicolour" —

"This biopic on the World War II is gripping drama with the original playing himself… no blustering heroics for the sake of derring-do and the action shown is that of a modest, unassuming young man" — Variety

AUDIE LEON MURPHY After being spotted as a potential Hollywood star by acting legend James Cagney, Murphy went on to appear in various bit parts until his first major starring role in Bad Boy. He notably appeared in The Red Badge Of Courage before starring in To Hell And Back and later carved out his niche in the genre that was to make up three quarters of all his acting roles the Western.

When Universal optioned Murphy's book to make the film, Audie initially declined to play himself, recommending Tony Curtis instead. However, the producers eventually persuaded him to star in the picture and, due to this extra level of intimacy and personal insight into the reality and horrors of war, the film was an enormous commercial and critical success.

Sadly, this gifted actor and respected war hero died when his private plane crashed into Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, in 1971. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia.

* Audie altered his date of birth from 1926 to 1924 to enable him to join the army. It is believed that his correct age on enlistment was actually 16 and he was therefore under age.
If these dates are correct, Audie would have been 44 when he died.