5.9/10
2,725
37 user 17 critic

Never So Few (1959)

Approved | | Drama, War | 7 December 1959 (USA)
During WW2, the American OSS mounts covert operations with the native Kachin against the Japanese army in the jungles of Burma.

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Millard Kaufman (screenplay), Tom T. Chamales (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Sinatra ... Capt. Tom Reynolds
Gina Lollobrigida ... Carla Vesari
Peter Lawford ... Capt. Grey Travis
Steve McQueen ... Bill Ringa
Richard Johnson ... Capt. Danny De Mortimer
Paul Henreid ... Nikko Regas
Brian Donlevy ... Gen. Sloan
Dean Jones ... Sgt. Jim Norby
Charles Bronson ... Sgt. John Danforth
Philip Ahn ... Nautaung
Robert Bray ... Col. Fred Parkson
Kipp Hamilton ... Margaret Fitch
John Hoyt ... Col. Reed
Whit Bissell ... Capt. Alofson - Psychiatrist
Richard Lupino Richard Lupino ... Mike Island
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Storyline

Captain Tom Reynolds and his band of skilled OSS operatives are in WWII Burma to arm and train the Kachin natives. But jungle combat, particularly against a Japanese army as familiar with the terrain as the Kachin, is hazardous. Some respite is found during leaves in the arms of beautiful gold digger Carla, but after Chinese raiders cross the border to loot and murder American soldiers, Reynolds abandons all notions of "military protocol" and seeks requital. Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Seven Men The World Had Forgotten And A Woman No One Could Forget! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Campaign Burma See more »

Filming Locations:

India See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,480,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie is based on the real-life story of World War II's OSS Detachment 101. This was an OSS Operations Group designed to specialize in activities in the China-Burma-India region in collaboration with the Kachin Rangers and other Allied special operations units. See more »

Goofs

When the air drop of supplies is made at the beginning of the film there is a scene of Japanese observers watching from high up in a tree, then shots supposedly showing what they were seeing through binoculars. The binocular shots are clearly filmed from a ground position, not as they would have been seen from the tree. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Dr. Barry: I'm not running a bar for Kachins.
Capt. Tom Reynolds: Well, you feel they're below your station, Doctor? You know, your type of so-called democratic Americans burns my butt.
Head Nurse: The captain is a mental case!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Kachin Koncerto
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Wolcott
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nothing in this war makes sense. Why you expect it to make sense now?
30 August 2015 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

An allied guerrilla unit led by Capt. Tom Reynolds (Frank Sinatra) deals with the Japanese army and warlord controlled Chinese troops out in the Burma jungle.

"In the hills of North Burma, gateway to the vast prize of Asia, less than a thousand Kachin warriors, fighting under American and British leadership of the O.S.S., held back 40,000 Japanese in the critical, early years of World War II. It has been said NEVER have free men everywhere owed so much to SO FEW".

Killer Warrants and The Unprecedented War.

Directed by John Sturges and featuring Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Peter Lawford, Brian Donlevy, Gina Lollobrigida, Richard Johnson and Paul Henreid. Never So Few it's fair to say has a iffy reputation, originally conceived as a rat pack war film, it has some great strengths and some annoying weaknesses. The story itself is great, a part of the war that deserves to have been portrayed on the big screen, but why the makers didn't exorcise the whole romantic thread remains not just a mystery, but nearly a film killer.

As lovely as Miss Lollobrigida is, her whole character arc, and the relationship with Sinatra's stoic Reynolds, is surplus to requirements. It serves absolutely no purpose to defining other characters or for narrative invention. This strand of the story carries the film to over two hours in length, without this strand it's a film of 90 minutes focusing on the brave souls who fought in the Burmese conflict. Which is what it should have been.

When dealing with the conflicts, both outer and inner, the film does excite. The wily Sturges knows his way around an action scene and all the efforts here are gripping. Cast are fine and dandy, with McQueen dominating his scenes, Johnson the class act on show, while Sinatra, once he gets rid of the fake beard, shows his knack for tortured emotion to the point you just can't help but root for him even when he's being pig-headed (not a stretch for old blue eyes of course).

Tech credits are mixed, the studio sets are easily spotted, but conversely so are the real and pleasing location sequences filmed in Ceylon. The Panavision photography (William H. Daniels) is beautiful, a Metrocolor treat, but Hugo Friedhofer unusually turns in a lifeless musical score. All told it's not hard to see why it's a film that divides opinions, it's very episodic and that romance drags it something terrible. But still strong merits exist and it at least gets the core of the real story out in the public domain. 6/10


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