review for The Immortal Sergeant on AllMovie

The Immortal Sergeant (1943)
by Craig Butler review

A so-so wartime propaganda film, The Immortal Sergeant is not itself destined for immortality. Indeed, despite the presence of Henry Fonda in the lead, Immortal is a fairly forgotten film today, and not without reason. While not a bad film, it's a very dated one, and a film that many modern viewers will find corny. Audiences in 1943 would have responded differently, finding it a morale booster that reminded them of the important role one man can play in a difficult situation, especially during a war. But even 1943 audiences might have found the picture to be overly clichéd and quite predictable. Director John M. Stahl does, however, deliver the goods in terms of keeping the action sequences exciting, and he even manages to inject some genuinely moving moments into the proceedings: the sharing of the last cigarette sequence, for example, hits its target quite truly. Immortal's biggest asset, however, is Fonda. The actor apparently did not like the role, but one would never know it from his performance. He gives the part all the quiet strength and conviction that one could wish. Thomas Mitchell, in the title role, is also quite good, and the supporting cast does its job more than capably.