William Wellman was an Academy Award-winning Hollywood director, especially of some of the most memorable westerns and war classics, A Star is Born, Beau Geste (Gary Cooper) Ox-Bow Incident (Henry Fonda) Battleground (Van Johnson) Across the Wide Missouri (Clark Gable) High and the Mighty and Blood Alley (John Wayne) Darby’s Rangers (James Garner.)
In 1945 he directed “The Story of G I Joe” based on the published story by Ernie Pyle “The Death of Captain Wascow”, 1944, a much-loved-by-his-troops company commander, Henry Wascow, who was killed during the infantry’s five-month battle to take the ancient monastery of Monte Cassino, about 80 miles SE of Rome in the spring of 1944. Pyle’s story is still a popular read here at VassarBushmills.com
“GI Joe” was a character largely created by Bill Mauldin in his hundreds of cartoons of Willie and Joe as members of the Infantry as they slogged through Sicily and Italy.
Much of Wellman’s film was photographed in the lights and darks of the Mauldin drawings, only it wasn’t funny.
The “Story of G I Joe” was filmed and released in 1945, before the war over, before Ernie Pyle had been sent to the Pacific and killed by a sniper’s bullet[…]