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Lee H. Katzin
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>
During the Jap ambush in the first part of the movie Capt. Reynolds' "gun-bearer" keeps handing him different weapons. He swaps his Thompson for a Sten then passes the Sten back for a Carbine. When the Japanese run out and shoot his "gun-bearer" Reynolds opens up "full-auto" with the Carbine. There were no "full-auto" Carbines in WWII. See more »
Great early look at a young Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. Lots of big names otherwise, with Sinatra, Gina Lolabrigida, Peter Lawford, Paul Henreid and Brian Donlevy.
Underlying story idea is a good one: a semi-factual recreation of OSS operations in Burma during WW2. Would be nice to see a modern remake of this movie due to the interesting subject matter.
McQueen's first big movie role. Acquits himself well and his performance certainly helped propel him to his future starring roles.
Gina Lolabrigida can't act worth a fig, but she sure is a whole lot of woman to look at.
I didn't buy Sinatra in the role for a minute. The casting of this pompous lounge lizard as a charismatic special forces officer is an insult to all veterans. Sinatra reportedly pressured the producers into kicking his good buddy Sammy Davis Jr. off the picture. This is ironic, because Davis actually served in WW2, while Ol' Blue Eyes was humping every starlet he could lay his hands on.
And what was up with that Aussie-style hat Sinatra wears? The guy is living in a tent in a steamy tropical jungle mowing down scores of Japs with a machine gun and there's not a single smudge, sweat stain or wrinkle on his hat. It looks like he just picked it up off the rack in the Flamingo's tourist shop. I can just imagine the director, John Sturges, begging Frank to beat the thing on a tree stump for half an hour to make it look realistic and Sinatra refusing because the wanted a slicker look.
The Sinatra role felt like it was written for Humphrey Bogart. This is especially apparent in what is supposed to be clever Bogie/Bacall style repartee between Sinatra and Lolabrigida. The casting of Paul Henreid, who starred with Bogie in Casablanca, seems no accident.
I can imagine that Sinatra bullied his way into a role that was way, way over his head. As much as I would like to blame Sinatra entirely for this movie's failure, it should be noted that the script is the main culprit, especially the excruciating attempt at "snappy patter" between Sinatra and Lolabrigida. I don't think even Bogart could have saved this movie, but these two acting cripples have absolutely no chance.
Sturges went on to direct a fantastic film, "The Great Escape" a couple of years later, so we'll have to cut him a break on this one.
Reminds me of another star studded stinker, "The Way West", an unwatchable 1965 western that starred Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark. That also had a director, Andrew McLaglen, who went on to do much better work.
Bottom line: this is a great example of how important a script is to a movie. Here you had a panoply of big time stars and talent, a solid director, but the movie stinks anyway. Also, if your leading man is an actor of very narrow ability, you better make sure you cast him in a role that suits him.
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