I have a friend who likes or loves the movie, but hate's Septon's return to the barracks from the tunnel and "wave" goodbye. Says it's completely wrong.
Well, HE's completely wrong. And a homo commie to boot.
His focus on the treatment of Septon by the other US POWs [threatening him and ultimately beating him up] is interesting, and explains why he finds the wave incongruous. Again, I understand why he finds the wave so wrong. I continue to disagree.
I don’t see the movie as being about Septon’s isolation from the others, nor about their treatment of him. Rather, I view it as a study of how the various people in this melting pot we call the U.S. of Freakin’ A deal with horrible fear and hardship. The fear and hardship of POW life. You’ve got the whacky jokesters, the leader-types, the [visiting] “hero” types, the ones who go crazy, and the unrepentant, defensive cynic. Whose absolute refusal to step back from cynicism is as much a mechanism to respond to his fear as is the suspicion or “scapegoating” exhibited by the others.
Had the movie not borrowed the cartoon sequences from the play, and the enjoyable-but-way-too-overly-broad characterizations of Strauss and Lembeck, and centered instead on the fear of the men and the fear generated by the Germans [the best characterizations and performances in the film are by Preminger and Sig Ruman, imho], then it would have been an amazing film, deep and dark.
And not directed by Wilder.
And earning $18 at the box office, rejected by its time.