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During the Korean War, the lieutenant in charge of a Marine rifle platoon is killed in battle. Before he dies, he places the platoon's sergeant, who's black, in charge. The sergeant figures on having trouble with two men in his platoon: a private who has much more combat experience than he does, and a racist Southerner who doesn't like blacks in the first place and has no intention of taking orders from one. Written by
This movie benefits from some striking monochrome photography which is particularly well in evidence during its opening scenes ;these show a US patrol proceeding through snow encrusted mountains when it comes under attack from a Communist force .In the resulting battle the platoon leader is killed and hands over authority to the unit's sole black soldier (effectively played by Sidney Poitier)rather than to its most experienced member ,Kincaid (Alan Ladd),to whom the men have always looked up . Thus racial tension and bitterness are added to the already fraught situation as the troop must find a place to make a stand against superior numbers while awaiting reinforcements .There is a difference of opinion over strategy between Ladd and Poitier and other tensions between patrol members who include a Native American ,a wisecracking New Yorker ( Mort Sahl) and a callow youth played by James Darren who also contributes a forgettable song
This is no better or worse than many another "patrol"movie with its assemblage of stock figures and seems to have been assembled with an eye to the widest demographic-Old Hollywood in Ladd , a rising newcomer in Poitier and a pop star(Darren ) for the youth market.Even the race angle was not new having featured in Home of The Brave over a decade previously
Good matinée fare but nothing special either way
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