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June 03, 2006

The War Lover


Philip Leacock - 1962
Columbia Pictures Region 1 DVD

Early on in The War Lover, Philip Leacock conveys the sense of fragility in war. One of the crew members is seen drinking some kind of stomach medicine that he mentions was never previously needed. The airplanes, described as flying fortresses, shake and rattle. The crew members in the machine gun turrets appear as the most vulnerable, but the shell of the bombers look ready to fall apart any any time. Philip Leacock's film takes place during World War II, with concerns about the psychological fragility of warriors still worth examining.

The role of the title character was something of a brave choice by Steve McQueen. Especially considering that The War Lover was done at a time when McQueen's stardom was on the ascent in modest budget films, McQueen's character of Buzz Rickson has moments where he is totally unsympathetic. Rickson is a pilot who takes chances with himself and his crew, impressing most, but not all with his bravado. At the same time, Rickson loves being destructive, both in his military capacity with enemy targets, and in relationships with other people. Leacock allows for Rickson to be viewed ambiguously, admired for his bravery under fire, occasionally repugnant at other times. One moment that captures both sides of Rickson's character suggests sexual release during combat.

Posted by peter at June 3, 2006 06:34 AM