After watching the DVD from MGM I played the trailer that was included on this release. Frank Sinatra himself introduces the film by speaking directly to us the viewer. He mentions the run he has had with From Here To Eternity and The Man With the Golden Arm before pointing out his latest effort, Kings Go Forth. He hints at the drama and taboo topic the film employs before clips of the film play out to spark our interest that include Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood. While not nearly as successful or memorable as those earlier films it is still worth catching this entertaining war time drama from director Delmer Daves. Daves was on a solid run in the mid to late fifties with a pair of superior Glenn Ford westerns, Jubal and 3:10 to Yuma.
Sinatra is a seasoned veteran during WW2 whose combat unit is stationed in France while trying to overtake the German forces and liberate the French people. Into his unit comes playboy Tony Curtis who by all appearances seems to be a spoiled rich kid with a penchant for wine and women. When you look like Tony I don’t think it’s so hard to see why the women come easily.
At first Tony seems to have a devil may care attitude and isn’t above charging into dangerous territory to face death and the enemy getting himself promptly promoted and gaining much respect from “Ole blue eyes.”
While on leave Tony can be found flirting with women on the French Riviera which leaves quiet and shy Frank to bump into the beautiful Natalie Wood whom he is quite taken with. As their relationship grows in the film we are confronted with the fact that while Frank would do anything for Natalie, her heart belongs to Tony who seems to have mended his lecherous ways for her hand in marriage. Heartbroken, Frank steps aside.
Between battle front skirmished, things are about to get controversial on the romance front. This will in turn lead Frank to tell Tony flat out “You touch her and I’ll kill you.” From here the fighting isn’t just at the front but between our leading stars. When the two are given the go ahead for a daring raid into enemy territory they may be worried more about each other than the German forces trying to shoot them dead.
Frank could always play the quiet loner type and does a commendable job while Tony does well with his brash playboy type who takes no prisoners when it comes to the ladies. It’s Natalie who breaks your heart here as the native french girl with a secret to hide. Apparently her role was originally to be played by Dorothy Dandridge according to IMDB. That should give you a hint as to the taboo subject.
As it stands, Natalie is more than just beautiful and does her best holding her own against a couple of heavyweights in the star department.
The film is pretty much a three character piece but Leora Dana is really solid as Wood’s mother. Turning up as Frank’s C.O. is long time character actor Karl Swenson. You may remember him as the mill owner Lars on Little House on the Prairie.
With the three iconic leads in this film it’s hard to pass it up. Give it a watch.
Not as well known as Daves’ other movies but it should be. Judy from Movie Classics wrote a nice piece on this back at the beginning of the year – check it out if you get the chance:
I will head over there and check it out. Thanks. Daves was on a solid run during the fifties to be sure.
Enjoyed your review of this – and you’ve reminded me that I still need to catch up with those Westerns Daves directed around this time. I hadn’t realised Swenson was in ‘Little House on the Prairie’, which I watched every week back in the 70s.
Many thanks to Colin for linking to my review – and I definitely agree that this film deserves to be known a lot better, with its “three iconic leads”, as you say, Mike.
Thanks for checking in Judy. I love spotting the character actors and mentioning them in my takes. They can sometimes add so much to films in general. Those Daves westerns are really worth your time if you get the chance.