Never So Few
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The MGM film, Never So Few, according to an ad in the Chicago Tribune had its Midwest Premiere on Friday, January 15, 1960, at the Oriental theatre (Randolph near State); the ad read "Exclusive Midwest Premiere" The film played four weeks, until Thursday, February 11, 1960 (the next day, Friday, Once More With Feeling opened). It opened in neighborhood theatres on Friday, February 26, 1960.


Chicago Tribune, Thursday, April 30, 1959, pt. 5, p. 4, c. 3:


TV's McQueen Gets Role in Sinatra Movie

by Hedda Hopper

Hollywood, April 29---Steve McQueen goes into "Sacred and Profane," the Sinatra picture at Metro formerly titled "Never So Few." This boy has built up a tremendous public with his Wanted--Dead or Alive TV series. I hear Producer Robert Webb, who's a Mcueen fan, recently bought "Terror at Webb's Landing," and will star Steve in it later this year when other commitments allow. . . .


Chicago Tribune, December 18, 1958:


Metro Will Try to Team Sinatra and Ava Gardner

by Hedda Hopper

Hollywood, Dec. 17---Metro has Frank Sinatra for "Never So Few" and when Ava Gardner, his ex-wife, arrives they'll try to persuade her to play opposite him. It's to be made in Burma, and will start Feb. 1. When they return they'll lay off until mid-May which would give her time to finish the picture she's about to make in Australia. We're not holding our breath until she says yes. . . .


New York Times, Friday, January 22, 1960:

Screen: 'Never So Few'

by Bosley Crowther


"There is no way to measure this picture with a yardstick of pure intelligence. It is a romantic fabrication by which intelligence is simply repelled. The war scens are wild and lurid, the dilly-dallying in the Calcutta bars and palatial hangouts of the wealthy is make-believe from an Oriental dream. Although based on a good book by Tom Chamales, the content of Millard Kaufman's script has the unsubstantiality of Hollywood hashish. And John Sturges has directed it for kicks."


Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1959:


Gina's Next Film, 'Go Maked in the World'

by Hedda Hopper

Hollywood, Nov. 5---When Gina Lollabridgida finished "Never So Few," she told me she'd be back and hoped it would be soon. Now Metro's found the story for her--she's returning for "Go Naked in the World." Ranald MacDougall is writing the screen script and directing and Aaron Rosenberg will produce. England went dotty over her "Sheba" at the London premiere. . . .


New York Times, Saturday, January 5, 1957:

Millard Kaufman will write the screen play for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "Never So Few," a story by Tom Chamales about the construction of the Burma Road during World War II. Sam Zimbalist will produce the picture.


Chicago Tribune, Monday, December 14, 1959, pt. 3, p. 6, c. 1:


by Hedda Hopper

Frank Sinatra gives an Oscar performance in "Never So Few." It's an exciting, thrilling film about a phase of World War II the Washington high brass tried to cover up. Next to Frankie comes Steve McQueen; he's full of fire and ginger. Lollobrigida is not only beautiful but does some fine acting. The beautiful shots of scenery in Ceylon are something to marvel at. This picture will make a mint and you'll do yourself a favor by seeing it. . . .


Chicago Tribune, December 17, 1959:


Dean Jones Will Star in 'Magnificent Seven'

by Hedda Hopper

Hollywood, Dec. 16---John Sturges, who directed Dean Jones in "Never So Few," will star him in "Magnificent Seven," which he'll produce and direct. In addition, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he was under contract for three years but never sang, wants him back for the Young Dr. Kildare TV; this proves what one good part well done will do for a guy. . . .


Where Filmed?

Chicago Tribune, January 25, 1959, p. 26:


by Herb Lyon

. . . . Ex-Chicago Author Tom Chamales and his missus, Singer Helen O'Connell, have reconciled and will hop to Burma with Sinatra to make the movie of Tom's best seller, "Never So Few."


Chicago Tribune, Friday, April 3, 1959, s. 3, p. 12, c. 4:


by Hedda Hopper

Incidentally, the Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida picture, "Never So Few," will be shot in Hawaii, not Burma, beginning May 4. . . .


Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1960, s. 2, p. 2, c. 1:


by Herb Lyon

Ticker Take: The death of angry young man Tom ["Never So Few"] Chamales in a Beverly Hills, Cal., fire was a shocker to his many Chicago friends. His sister, Mrs. George Crowley of Wilmette, says Tom and his estranged wife, Singer Helen O'Connell, werr ready to resume and were talking things out. Tom's dad, formerly a wealthy Chicago theater owner, suffered a stroke last week in Muncie, Ind. . . . Young Tom, who wrote his way to the big time, had just started another novel. . . .


Chicago Tribune, October 29, 1959, s. 3, p. 9, c. 1:


McQueen Hot as a Pistol

by Hedda Hopper

Hollywood, Oct. 28---Steve McQueen's hotter than the pistols he handles in TV's Wanted--Dead or Alive. I wasn't here to see the preview of "Never So Few" with Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida, but I'm told he steals it. Frankie told me he would while they were making it; now Metro wants Steve for "Cimarron" with Glenn Ford and Maria Schell. He's so busy acting he no longer has time for racing, which is a blessing. . . .


New York Times, Monday, November 19, 1956, p. 40, c. 1:


Studio Gets Rights to 'Never So Few,' Burma Road Story, in Pre-Publication Deal

by Thomas M. Pryor

Special to The New York Times

Hollywood, Calif., Nov. 18---Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired movie rights in a pre-publication deal to "Never So Few," a first novel written by Tom Chamales. The adventure romance about the building of the Burma Road during World War II is scheduled to be brought out in March by Charles Scribner's Sons.

The movie version will be produced by Sam Zimbalist. He said there were five lead male roles and one important female role in the story. Mr. Zimbalist would like to cast Ava Gardner and Bill Travers, both under contract to Metro, in the film.


Reviews are extracts:

Chicago American, Monday, January 18, 1960:


Never So Miscast a Love Affair!

You never saw a more mismatched couple than Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida in Never So Few.

Fortunately there is more, much more, to the story. It offers many sequences of violent, highly exciting battle scenes in which Sinatra functions as an astonishingly daring leader.

Another episode finds the dauntless little captain crossing the forbidden boundary into China after he discovers an American convoy has been massacred by a Chinese war lord. Sinatra captures the Chinese culprits and orders them executed, justifying the deed by official documents proving such attacks upon Americans by the war lords had been authorized by the Chiang Kai-shek government.

The Chinese Republic must resent bitterly this propaganda touch. I understand the Consul General of the Republic of China in Los Angeles protested to MGM.

Nevertheless, Sinatra is exonerated in a rather hasty finale which ties u p all the loose ends and resolves everything in a fade-out kiss between the hero and heroine.


Chicago Sun-Times, Monday, January18, 1960, s. 2, p. 13, c. 1 (with photo):

Phony Story Defeats Fine Cast

By Doris Arden

Never So Few, is big and phony. It is also long and stuffed with clichs of romance and warfare, and it deteriorates into a happy ending that has Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida headed for a future in Indianapolis.

The big battle episodes involve the taking of a North Burma airport against heavy odds, and a surprise attack against Chinese troops that have been crossing the border to raid and kill Americans. These are exciting, but stageytheres never any doubt, for instance, that Sinatra is going to survive all the dangers.

A film called Yesterdays Enemy, shown a month or two ago, was an infinitely better picture of the heroism of the men who waged the Burma campaign, of the odds against which they fought, and of the desperate situations in which they found themselves.

Never So Few is both glossy and false, so that most of its characters, in spite of the peril and the risks, seem merely to be giving it the old college try.

Its a top-notch cast, however. Sinatra handles his role competently; Miss Lollobrigida is quite a dish to find so near the jungle, and Steve McQueen, Richard Johnson, and Peter Lawford, make sharp impressions.


Chicago Daily News, Monday, January 18, 1960, p. 25, c. 1 (with photo) [extract]:

Never So Few

With Gina, Do You Need War?

By Sam Lesner

Never So Few, MGMs drama of World War II with a background of guerrilla fighting in the jungles of north Burma, is a better love story than a war drama, but honest as neither.

It is just one too many of those pseudo-serious war drama that compounds the atrocities of men at war while trying to justify the nobility of personal vengeance on the part of an American Army captain who had no patience with our War Departments tender regard for some murderous Chinese war lords.

Actually, this is very slick story-telling, handsomely photographed in color with authentic and impressive background scenes filmed in Burma and India.

But it is too slick and on very thin ice when it invades the political background of the Pacific phase of World War II.

One audacious young captain and one armchair general, played clumsily by Brian Donlevy, could not have solved our dilemma over China then any more than they could today. But this film makes it quite simple. With Sinatra and Gina in romantic togetherness, who needed a war in Burma with its political overtones to distract one?

Watch that McQueen fellow. Here is a million-dollar personality!


Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, May 27, 1959, pt. 5, p. 1, c. 3:


by Hedda Hopper

Lollabrigida, at the races, told me she'd never looked so well as in "Never So Few," with Bill Daniels' photograqphy. She'd like to sign him for life. She came with Benny Thaus. Also there were Ralph Levy and his lovely wife, Alfred hitchcock with Lew Wasserman, and Louella Parsons.


Chicago American, Tuesday, July 25, 1961, p. 9, c. 3 (extract):


Story of Stalled Career

A handsome young man with dark eyes and black wavy hair came calling on me the other day, and we had a long talk about his background, his adventures, and ambitions.

He is Robert Kendall, actor, teacher, lecturer, and writer. Obviously, he as a cultivated mind and high ideals. Chamales is his family name. His great-grandfather, Joe Chamales, came from Greece to settle in Chicago. And during the 1920's, Joe Chamales and his two brothers, Tom and Bill, operated the famous Green Mill rswtaurant.

Robert's cousin was the late writer, Tom T. Chamales, whose best-sellers, "Never So Few" and "Go Naked In the World," were filmed by MGM.

However, Robert stayed on in glamourland and four months later was spotted by an agent who took him to Universal studios which happened to need a replacement for Sabu the elephant boy in "The Song of Scheherazade." That started the turbaned phase of Kendall's career. He said:

"I suffered rom type casting. I've played Arabs six times and Baby Faced Nelson four times. Finally I decided to turn to teaching."

About his acting career? The dream still persists, but he is tired of turbans and crime dramas, tired of playing those 15 to 20 year old roles because, he said, "I'm past that age and yearning for some dramatic latitude."


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