Four American soldiers stationed near a German village face death in the rape of a local girl, and are defended by outside counsel Major Steve Garrett.Four American soldiers stationed near a German village face death in the rape of a local girl, and are defended by outside counsel Major Steve Garrett.Four American soldiers stationed near a German village face death in the rape of a local girl, and are defended by outside counsel Major Steve Garrett.
Christine Kaufman who shortly after this film became the second Mrs. Tony Curtis, is attacked and raped by four American soldiers. The four, Frank Sutton, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Blake, and Mal Sondock, are in danger of capital punishment as prescribed by the American Code of Military Justice.
As another reviewer pointed out this was taking place while Germany was still an occupied country. Allied occupation of Germany didn't officially end until 1955 when our High Commissioner to Germany, James B. Conant, became our first ambassador to the German Federal Republic. After that these four would have taken their chances in a German criminal court.
The fact though that they were soldiers also meant that there was no chance for acquittal. What had to be determined was how guilty they were, even to the extent of the ultimate punishment.
Kirk Douglas for the defense and E.G. Marshall for the prosecution make a good pair of adversaries. Marshall would very shortly see how the other half lived as after this film was done, he would star in the long running TV series, The Defenders.
Kirk Douglas is a tiger in the courtroom as he ruthlessly puts Kaufman's own character on trial. It's his job, it's done down to the present day with victims of rape. But he's also a person with conscience, he knows exactly the character of the four men he's charged with the defense of, the character of each of them individually.
Anyway there isn't a player alive who doesn't relish a good courtroom scene and Douglas made the most of his opportunity here. I don't believe Kirk got back in a courtroom until a made for TV remake of Inherit the Wind.
Of the German cast and I note that several including Kaufman have had substantial careers in the German cinema, Barbara Rueting as the German reporter who narrates the film and Gerhard Lippert as Kaufman's boyfriend also stand out.
Of course no discussion of Town Without Pity is complete without the title song which I remember so well blaring from the jukeboxes of 1961. This jazz/rock and roll song was very typical of what was happening in German and other foreign culture, an overwhelming Americanization of same. Gene Pitney sold a lot of records of Town Without Pity back in the day. If you've never seen the film you'll remember the song after seeing it once.
And you'll also remember in terms of attitudes they really are the same. Those little minds will indeed tear you in two.
It's what a Town Without Pity does.
- Jun 3, 2006