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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Naked and the Dead')

Directed by Raoul Walsh
USA 1958


Long before he won Pulitzer Prizes for such Koch Medialy acclaimed literary works as Armies of the Night (1969) and The Executioner's Song (1980), Norman Mailer spent two years serving in the Philippines as a rifleman for the Marines during World War II. His tough, gritty experiences there were later transformed into his first novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948), generally considered to be one of the finest American novels ever written about World War II. RKO Pictures took on the enormous task of bringing the prestigious book to the big screen in 1958 and with an expert craftsman like Raoul Walsh (Objective, Burma! (1945), Battle Cry, 1955) at the helm things looked promising. The real challenge, however, was how to remain true to Mailer's artistic vision and literary masterwork.

The biggest obstacle was adapting the lengthy novel - 721 pages! - into a commercial film with an acceptable running time. The essential storyline from Mailer's book remained intact: Marines stationed in the South Pacific struggle for survival against the enemy as well as their own platoon leader, a sadistic sergeant named Croft (the underrated Aldo Ray plays the menacing Sergeant Croft with gusto). Croft's abusive nature toward his men is at odds with the command of the highly moralistic Lt. Hearn (Cliff Robertson) who tries to reason with Croft; however, his efforts are undermined by General Cummings (Raymond Massey), who is convinced that soldiers will fight harder if they hate their superiors. Despite the strong premise, the truncation of the novel to fit a two-hour film sadly compromised Mailer's ideological portrayal of war and the abuse of power. Another problem was that the book's rough but realistic language had to be diluted considerably (four-letter words simply weren't allowed by Hollywood's Production Code at the time) and this robbed the film of the rawness that made Mailer's work so celebrated. Worst of all, the studio tried to make the screen adaptation more commercially appealing by adding a few ill-conceived slapstick set pieces (including an obligatory barroom brawl) and some unnecessary romantic subplots involving a striptease artist Lily (Lili St. Cyr) and a prostitute named Mildred (Barbara Nichols).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Theatrical Release: October 25th, 1958

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DVD Review: Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 2:10:36 (4% PAL speedup) 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.94 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0), DUB: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, Italian, None

Release Information:
Studio: Koch Media

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Letterboxed

Edition Details:

• DVD Credits 

DVD Release Date: 2010

Keep Case
Chapters: 12



There is a Warner Archive Blu-ray of The Naked and the Dead reviewed HERE.

One word about the transfer - "Ugghhh". Hard to believe in 2010 anyone would produce 2.35:1 aspect ratio films in a letterboxed, non-16X9, format. But that is not the end of it - despite being dual-layered the image is horrendous - bordering on unwatchable- filled with artefacts and is extremely hazy and soft.

Audio doesn't fare much better and there is an optional Italy DUB and similar subtitles. The disc is region 2 in the PAL format.

The film and book are notable for being Terrence Malick's inspiration for The Thin Red Line. We can't recommend the disc but would love to see it released in a more competent transfer one day. This appears to be the only game in town at present. 

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL

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