Published on May 29th, 2008 | by Chris0
None But The Brave (1965)
1965's None But The Brave is just a strange movie to me. It's really hard to explain why, but that won't stop me from trying! I mean, to start, the whole thing is produced, *directed*, and stars, in a somewhat secondary role, old blue-eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Not exactly what you'd expect, right? Well it just gets better.
We find a band of Japanese soldiers, stranded on a remote island (like there's any other kind?) in the South Pacific. Early on, we get a glimpse into the mindset of their commander, Lt. Kuroki (Tatsuya Mihashi), in a somewhat sympathetic light, as he deals with his men and the gung-ho style of his second, Sgt. Tamura (Takeshi Katoo).
(Quick Aside: DVD producers!! If you're going to take films like this onto disc, that have a lot of Japanese in them, PLEASE don't remove the subtitles that would have been on the original film and add them to the English subtitles!!! PLEASE!!! It took me a minute to figure out that we really should be understanding the dialog in Japanese. A quick eye-roll, heavy sigh, and remote-button-press later we were good to go, but come on!!!)
Things change for the Japanese when a Marine Corps. transport and its escort are shot down by a Zero just off the island, and the transport crashes with most of the men surviving. Out comes our beloved Frankie as an alcoholic Corpsman, the bulky and authoritative pilot, Capt. Bourke (Clint Walker) and the caricature Gung-Ho Marine, Lt. Blair (Tommy Sands.) Blair has got to be one of the most over-the-top portrayals of your stereotypical jarhead ever, with his accent and constant drill-sergeant style.... He's funny... to the point of being down-right annoying. At least we've got the level-headed Bourke and the understated Corpsman.....
Anyway! After the Marines get encamped, and several battles ensue, a deal is reached where sinatra's Corpsman helps out (!) an injured Japanese soldier by removing his gangrenous leg. With that a certain amount of trust is established between the two camps, and the two commanders realize that they're both in a similar and dire circumstance. The only way for them to survive is to work together.
Of course its never quite that simple, as the Americans work behind the Japanese' back to establish radio contact with their forces. They do, and its agreed that once it looks like the war is back on for these two camps, the fighting resumes, and the entire Japanese contingent is wiped out.
Its painfully clear what the overall message of the film is, that the wars we are sent to fight really are constructs thrown on us by our leaders. As the two camps work together, and build trust, they all become quite good friends. The parallels between the two camps are equally obvious, with both having their level-headed, yet troubled commanders, and their simple-minded warmongering second-in-commands. Unfortunately the war rears its ugly head at the end, and it leaves all but a tiny handful dead. A noble sentiment, to be sure. But the events and people we come across to get there just make None But The Brave somewhat of an enigma to me, especially considering the unexpected source! I really did enjoy it! Really! It just had so many oddities to me to leave me scratching my head. And the mess with the subtitles on the DVD didn't help any!
I'd recommend None But The Brave, just make sure you're aware that *yes* you should be using the subtitles! Or you will really be confused!
I almost forgot another bit of odd trivia, the somewhat unremarkable soundtrack was penned by future master "Johnny Williams!" Just another thing to throw into the mix!
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