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Captain Tom Reynolds and his band of skilled O.S.S. operatives are in WWII Burma to train the Kachin natives in modern warfare. But jungle combat, particularly against a Japanese army as familiar with the terrain as the Kachin, is more grueling than Reynolds had reckoned. Some respite is found in the arms of beautiful Carla, but after Chinese rebels cross the border to loot and murder American soldiers, Reynolds abandons all notions of "military protocol" and seeks requital. Written by
Chris Stone <email@example.com>
The airplane taxiing on the airfield in the movie is an actual WW II Japanese Nakajima KI-84 "Hayate" (code named 'Frank'), and was the equal of any allied fighter plane at the time. This aircraft is now on display at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in Kagoshima Japan, and is the only surviving example of this type. See more »
During the opening scene, when the plane is flying over the Burmese countryside, the small rocky plateau shown in one shot is actually located in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka. See more »
Frank Sinatra looks like an outdoors department store mannequin most of the time and the usually reliable action director John Sturgis (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape) is at a loss to get things moving in this World War Two drama that claims to have been shot in Burma and Thailand (exposition shots perhaps) but is dominated by exterior scenes shot on indoor stages.
Sinatra is Captain Tom Reynolds commander of an elite force sent to Burma to train and support locals against the Japanese. He's there to get a job done by any means possible and his methods causes rifts within the unit as he bends the rules. In between helping liberate the Burmese people and committing atrocities he spends his r&r in clinches with English challenged, futuristic looking Gina Lollibridgida.
Sturgis is hard pressed from the outset to build suspense and urgency into his film with Sinatra's casual acting style in the pivotal role. He's all Vegas cool and insolence and it's a bad fit to lead the likes of characters played by real rough and tumbles Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson who shine amid a lack lustre cast. It's a passionless performance (even in his clinches with Gina) as he downs a fair amount of scotch and sleepwalks through his role.
Sturgis for his part has a hard time trimming and putting scenes together to give the film any life or power. The dialog is cliché ridden and the acting flat most of the time which Sturgis attempts to remedy by punctuating with action and sneak attacks that are themselves poorly staged and edited.
Legendary B&W cinematographer William Daniels never did grasp color in the same way and he glaringly displays it here with distracting compositions that look artificial and lit like football stadiums. Hugo Friedhofer's score attempts to convey the gravity of the situation but instead heightens the overall mawkishness.
In similar more successful treatments you have Errol Flynn's inspirational leadership in Warner's suspenseful Objective Burma before and Lee Marvin's tough, no nonsense commander in The Dirty Dozen following raising the question is Never So Few worth a watch? The first word of the title says it all.
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