Ex-GI Ken who as a result of a war wound is paralyzed below the waist. In the hospital back home, he passes through an initial period of depression with the help of a sympathetic Dr. Brock and his faithful fiancée Ellen. Ken's bitter isolation is also overcome with the help of his fellow patients, especially the intelligent young cynic Norm, the witty Leo and serious young Angel. Soon Ken throws himself into the work rehabilitation and after a long period of physical therapy even suspects he may regain the use of his limbs. With the approval and help of the doctor, he and Ellen marry, but on their wedding night both have misgivings about the marriage: the full realization of Ellen's new responsibilities frighten her and makes her more uncertain than ever, and Ken reverts to self-pity. There is a violent argument, and he goes back to the hospital. But his blazing anger finds no sympathy from his buddies, and after a surprising conversation with Dr. Brock, Ken realizes that he must ...Written by
Stars 49 of the men from Birmingham Veterans Administration Hospital. See more »
When Leo and Ken are at the bar, the patron's hand jumps to Leo's shoulder. See more »
If he loves you as much you love him, he'll make you go.
You've been so clever, so logical, I've never knew that you handled words so well.
That's not an answer, Elly.
You weren't quite so logical a few years ago when we needed some boys to ground and get killed or paralyzed.
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Marlon Brando's feature film debut was in this small budget independently produced film The Men about paralyzed World War II veterans and their adjustments. The Men also came out at around the same time as Warner Brothers Bright Victory about blind veterans and their adjustment to society.
The Men did not have the strong support of a major studio, but it had Marlon Brando who was winning raves at this time for his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire. Many a time Broadway stars before and since did not recreate their career roles on film because Hollywood wanted box office insurance.
Stanley Kramer's independently produced film, risked no money for a major studio and proved Marlon Brando could both be a screen presence and a box office draw. So Brando and the entire Broadway cast with the exception of Jessica Tandy got to preserve A Streetcar Named Desire as it was first seen on stage on the strength of his good notices for The Men.
Brando dominates the film with combination of charm and bitterness not too many other actors could achieve. He's condemned to a wheelchair, not sure what if any of the functions of his lower body he will be able to use and control. His bitterness nearly drives away Teresa Wright who loves him in spite of all.
Look for good performances by Howard St. John and Dorothy Tree as Wright's parents, Everett Sloane as the doctor treating spinal cord injuries like Brando's and Richard Erdman as Brando's horse playing veteran friend. You might remember Erdman from Stalag 17 as barracks chief Hoffman. He's just as good here in The Men.
The wars change, but the injuries to life and limb to our armed services remain the same as do the problems therein. In that sense The Men is a timeless classic and the debut of a legend.
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