A Medal for Benny
Reviewed in February 2010
Director: Irving Pichel. Cast: Arturo de Córdova, Dorothy Lamour, J. Carrol Naish, Fernando Alvarado, Rosita Moreno, Grant Mitchell, Mikhail Rasumny, Nestor Paiva, Frank McHugh, Eva Puig, Charles Dingle, Douglas Dumbrille. Screenplay: Frank Butler (based on an original screen story by John Steinbeck and Jack Wagner).

Photo © 1945 Paramount Pictures
I am Joe Morales - a fellow who has maybe not been to church as often as he should, but who has always had very nice thoughts about you; Needs fish to woo a girl; odd near-POV from Christ statue, as he finishes romantic prayer?; Jesus Christ, we're back in Tortilla Flat; We're quickly in the land of fake Espanish; "I have lived with my sister for nine years!"; $60 for his boat; JCN: "Thees man is crazy. Aye find it not posseeble to argue with a man who is crazy"; Benny was JCN's offscreen son, whose homecoming is awaited; AdC wheedles fortuitous money out of JCN and then woos DL to a dance by citing dream of her dead mother; Rosita Moreno as TOODLES CASTRO; Benny's last letter from San Francisco: "To know THAT man for 5 min is to know him forever"; DL decides to claw Toodles's dress right of her; catfight at dance, and bowl of beans on Joe's head; "And then... when she poured the beans over you, I felt sort of sad, and silly, like a woman in love" - oh, for Christ's sake; after kiss: "I think now even my grandmother who has been dead for forty years knows" (that he loves her); Benny Martin has won the Congressional Medal of Honor for killing Japs; (of course he turns out to be dead); The throng of media and politicians show up: JCN: "It's too many cops, it must be Benny... wit hBenny, they always kick the door down a leetle"; He may literally have won the nom when he walks over upon news of B's death to light a candle to an alcove; DL speaks Spanish by avoiding contractions: "It is no use Charlie," and wearing a flower in her hair; Plopping a tasseled mexican hat on top of JCN for his photo-op; moved him into a huge house; Simplisitc allegory about vulgarizing intrustions of the mass media, incl. DL hiding her attraction to AdC; Charlie gives away everything in his house to his friends; house doesn't ACTUALLY belong to JCN, despite the mayor's gift; "The father of a hero... people might get the wrong impression"; "This medal is gonna do for Pantera what the quintuplets did for Canada" - "Benny was a wild boy, but even Benny would not think to do a thing like this"; to sell a lot of hot DOGS, and real esTATE! NOW we WILL go HOME; Gen: "Some mighty fine Americans have come out of shacks" - 10944; "It is now, sir, I can say something?"; "Mebbe it is good for the country that she must depend for her son on many kinds of people"; 11133; AdC: "I was always twice as good as that Benny - I'll come back with TWO medals!"; at JCN's urging, "Kiss him for good luck... TOO much luck, it's plenty!" It's as though AdC has been written right out of the movie; D+

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Supporting Actor: J. Carrol Naish
Best Original Story: John Steinbeck & Jack Wagner

Golden Globe Nominations and Winners:
Best Supporting Actor: J. Carrol Naish

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