The Eve of St. Mark (1944)

Genres - Drama, Romance, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama, War Romance  |   Release Date - May 22, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While time has lessened some of its impact, The Eve of St. Mark is still a crackling good war film, thanks largely to its cast and to John M. Stahl's energetic direction. Not that Eve's screenplay doesn't deserve a fair share of the credit; although the ending has been changed from the play's bleak despair to one which offers the promise of hope, the rest of the piece has been transferred to the screen relatively intact. Maxwell Anderson's dialogue, reshaped and slightly transformed by scenarist George Seaton, is definitely theatrical (some might say "stagey"), but it's also quite powerful and dramatic. Many of the plot points and much of the subject matter has been covered by many other films down through the years, which does dampen Eve a bit, but the structure is sound enough to make it work. Of the cast, lead actor William Eythe struggles a bit with his role, not always able to make some of the more "heightened" dialogue sound natural enough. The rest do anywhere from just fine to excellent. Vincent Price, given one of his fairly rare "good guy" roles, is quite good as the sensitive poetry-quoting soldier, and Anne Baxter does wonders with a fairly typical "girl back home" role. Even better are George Mathews' hard-as-nails sarge and Michael O'Shea's silver-tongued private. Stahl's direction is able to navigate the many changes of mood in the film quite adeptly, resulting in a fine film that deserves to be better known.