Race, love, and war. The Allies have landed in France, set up in a coastal town, where Lt. Sam Loggins, a serious guy from Manhattan's west side, falls hard for Monique Blair, an American raised in France. Loggins' sergeant, Britt Harris, a playboy from Jersey, also finds Monique attractive. She chooses one to love and the other to befriend after disclosing her parents' history and why she lives in France. The men say it makes no difference, a wedding is announced, and the soldiers face a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. But is everyone being truthful? Written by
A movie to cry and be glad about--a wrapping up of love beyond war
Kings Go Forth (1958)
I shouldn't have loved this movie as much as I did. But it touches on those basics of love and life and rivalry and goodness I couldn't help be manipulated. And it's set in Villefranche, one of my favorite places in the world, and it's set during WWII, when life for Europe was its most on fire. And there I was, crying and loving it.
"Kings Go Forth" is actually a slightly late in the game WWII flick that shifts attention at first to luxuriating soldiers in the south of France just as the war was ending. It's not as much about war (though there are some remnants of fightings which are tense). It's more about a bunch of decent guys, two of them in particular, and their misunderstandings. And it's about love. The south of France and the Mediterranean is about as decent a setting for romance as you get. It's idealizing (everyone loves the Americans in their Jeeps, which must be half true, but not entirely), and it's all sunny weather and champagne. Except that love is never easy, and it gets more and more intense, sad, and profound. Yes, profound.
Tony Curtis is terrific as usual. As Brit Harris he is charming, funny, and clever. Natalie Wood in one of many great roles between "Rebel Without a Cause" and "West Side Story" is rather perfect, except maybe her French accent. But she represents, as Monique Blair, something perfectly innocent and yet ravaged by war. The other lead, the main character Sam Loggins, is played by Frank Sinatra, and Loggins also loves Blair. At first Loggins is noble and lets Harris win the girl's heart, but then it gets complicated.
There is a fabulous last war scene for the climax, featuring a special mission needing just two men--our leads, now enemies and distrustful. But in the heat of their battle, Harris gives some real wisdom about character, and Loggins shows true compassion. It's war, the worst and the best of it. And it's the worst and best of love, too, with an ending just slightly hanging in mid-air.
Director Delmer Daves pulls off a lot of great, nicely felt films. They often lack an edge of innovation or of real probing triumph, but this is one of those that brings a lot of issues, including racism at its simplest, to a believable story. Don't brush this movie off. And don't be put off by the first twenty minutes or so when the establishing scenes seem like just another good war film. This one goes places, at least for the romantic.
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