The Red Badge of Courage focuses on the moral world of a young man in the Union Army, Henry Fleming. He has deserted his regiment in the clash and horror of battle, deluding himself with specious arguments of self-preservation, only to discover that his group has won the day. He finds himself among the wounded, and they treat him as though he is wounded himself, which fills him with shame at his cowardice and desertion. He goes back to his comrades, vowing to cleanse himself through bravery in battle. He redoubles his assault on the Confederate foe, grasping the standard of battle from a dying man and carrying it bravely forward. At last, his conscience is clear, and his self-inflicted wound of cowardice has been healed.
Plot centers around how a young recruit (Audie Murphy) faces the horrors of war. Character vascilates between wanting to fight and doubting his own courage. In midst of first bloody encounter, Youth runs away. After seeing dead and wounded, sense of shame leads him back to his unit, where he distinguishes himself in the next battle. Having overcome his fear of "the great Death" he knows e can face whatever comes. Somewhat sentimental "coming of age" tale was pet project of John Huston, who fought MGM over casting of Murphy and Bill Mauldin in lead roles. Written by Rita Richardson