Captain Edward Hall returns to the USA after two years in a prison camp in the Korean war. In the camp he was brainwashed and helped the Chinese convince the other prisoners that they were fighting an unjust war. When he comes back he is charged for collaboration with the enemy. Where does loyalty end in a prison camp, when the camp is a living hell? Written by
Paul Newman, in his third film, plays Korean War vet who was a POW for three years. When he returns home he's brought up on treason charges and faces a court marshall. This film is based on a Rod Serling teleplay so the material makes for a good movie, although in the end I'm not sure what type of message it's sending out. The POW was tortured, not physically but mentally, and the film takes a look at this and what one's breaking point is. A lot of questions about loyalty to your country is brought up during the court scenes but some might be confused by what the ending tries to say or the complete turn around that seems to happen half way through the film. There's also the added plot of Newman's character not being able to connect with his hard boiled father (Walter Pidgeon) and connecting to his dead brother's girlfriend (Ann Francis). The film's screenplay has a lot of great sequences in it but it never really becomes clear on what it's trying to say. Is the film trying to claim that everyone has a breaking point? Is it trying to say that everyone should reach a breaking point but keep going for your country? The film seems to want to have its cake and eat it too as both sides are given credit yet neither takes the stage over the other. What works the best here are the performances with Newman stealing the film with his passionate character. The torture Newman displays is very striking and wonderfully done, which is rather amazing considering this was only his third film. Pidgeon has some equally impressive scenes as does Cloris Leachman. Lee Marvin, playing a tortured vet, also comes across very good in his few scenes. Wendell Corey and Edmond O'Brien are also very good. While the film's message might be someone confusing the film still works as a nice drama with plenty of good performances.
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