Three Marines take shore leave in San Francisco during World War II. Frankie O'Neill visits his lower-class dysfunctional family; Nico Kantaylis visits his pregnant fiancée; and the upper-class Alan Newcombe visits his high-living playgirl girlfriend. Each must decide whether to make the best of his situation or break out of it. O'Neill drowns his troubles in alcohol, losing the respect of a potential lover; Kantaylis marries his fiancée, but realizes he may not survive the war to see his child; while Newcombe sheds his decadent girlfriend for a pure-hearted Hawaiian nurse. Later, in battle, a heroic act costs one of the Marines his life.Written by
"In Love and War" was one of that group of Hollywood films of the 1950's based on best selling novels about WW2. They were written by men who had experienced the war first hand: "The Young Lions", "Between Heaven and Hell" and "Battle Cry" among others.
Being around 10 years of age at the time, they were the kind of movies I couldn't wait to see. However they usually had as much time devoted to the bedroom as to the battlefield - lots of mushy stuff. "In Love and War" wasn't kidding when it put 'Love' first in the title. At the time though, I thought Dana Wynter was about the most beautiful woman in the world - I'm not sure that I still don't.
These days I can handle the mushy stuff better and actually appreciate it more than the rather bloodless, unrealistic action scenes that were the norm for those films.
"In Love and War" had an overload of beautiful people. Along with Dana Wynter there was Robert Wagner, Jeffery Hunter, Hope Lange, Bradford Dillman, Sheree North and France Nuyen - stunning in her second movie.
The story is about three marines from different backgrounds. Their lives reflect different levels of society, but there are problems all around: the spoilt rich girl bored with life (Dana), a bit of interracial tension (France Nuyen) and an evil stepfather for Robert Wagner's character. By 1958, anti-war sentiment was de rigueur - Brad Dillman's character rages against the senselessness of war. Unfortunately the various strands of the story seemed plucked from a file of alphabetically listed stock plots.
The island the marines storm is unnamed. The author, Anton Myrer, was wounded serving with the marines on Guam, but the battle here seems to be representative, not specific.
Many war films at the time combined documentary footage with the recreations, and it was never seamless. That was the case in this film despite a few gritty scenes. However they pale when compared to the 2010 mini series, "The Pacific".
"In Love and War" has one element that pulls the whole thing together, a magnificent score by Hugo Friedhofer. It captures the heroism and tragedy of war, the epic along with the intimate. The score for this film is one of its stars.
I can still enjoy this movie even if nostalgia plays a part. As for modern audiences, this is what a big glossy movie of the time looked like with stars who seemed better than life.
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