Published on January 3rd, 2013 | by Chris1
Kings Go Forth (1958)
"All's fair in love and war," right? Kings Go Forth turned out to be such an odd little picture. I mean, not only is it an obvious "star" picture, with Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, and the fetching Natalie Wood.... But its controversial! And hip, too, man! Well, you'll see what I mean.
Lt. Sam Loggins (Frank Sinatra) finally gets some leave time and heads off to the South of France. While getting away from the usual hubbub and junk he runs into Monique Blair (Natalie Wood.) The two hit it off, and she doesn't want to see him any more... but he persists, eventually getting in good graces with her mother (Leora Dana) who as it turns out, is an American, and so is Monique. The shocker? (cue the stinger...) Her father was black! (stinger!!!) oh noes!
Seriously, now. Today, we wouldn't even bat an eye. I didn't. Honestly, my first reaction was, "you have got to be f***ing kidding me, right?" But, consider that in 1958, and especially during the war, that was probably a big deal. And the picture illustrates that. I can also imagine a fair bit of controversy at the time. Now? I don't care. The bigger problem? Neither did they, apparently, as it really doesn't come up again.... although it does seem to be implied (see below.) Why bother with this little detour at all? Probably just to garner press, I imagine... but anyway.
Meanwhile, back on base, the new guy shows up, Cpl. Britt Harris (Tony Curtis), the typical "silver spoon" kid who likes to live on the edge, getting into trouble, losing his stripes, getting them back and generally being a pain in the ass. Do we like him? Yes, and no. He's the epitome of the dashing careless type, but there's something else buried down there....
It doesn't deter good old Sam, and the two head off to (wait for it) a 1950's beatnik style jazz club (nice). In between the poetry (brilliant) and interpretive dance (amazing) the next act is.... none other than Harris on the horn! (wow, man). Instantly Harris and Monique hit it off, and the love triangle is born.
And you basically have the rest of the film right there. The two of them jockeying for position, with Sam eventually losing. But wait, there's more. Harris proposes to Monique, and Sam must grudgingly concede defeat in this battle. Or so it would seem.
Back on base again, Sam and Britt get pegged for a secret mission together, and Sam discovers from the local supply man that the engagement is a sham, that Britt never planned to go through with it.... Well, you can imagine how this goes over. Cue the required confrontation, complete with death threats... the mission, the inevitable outcome..... (and its implied that he didn't go through with it because of her patronage, but also that he does this sort of thing all the time... so who knows?)
...which I won't spoil here. Suffice it to say that we are not disappointed, and Sam pays a hefty price for his mission, losing an arm. Also a curiosity, I don't recall any period picture tackling a subject like that in such a matter-of-fact fashion.
Naturally, the three principals, and Dana do a fine job in their respective roles. Really, this is not a bad picture at all, in fact, if it weren't for the entire anachronistic (I think, anyway) jazz club scene (baby) and the seemingly dead-end angle of Monique's father's ethnicity.... Kings Go Forth would be quite superb as a half-war movie half-romance. I have to knock it down a notch because of those two qualities, though. Still a solid 7/10.
It's based on the book of the same name by Joe David Brown.
Here's a clip, basically a spoiler.
Kings Go Forth
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It comes from Hollywood's era of grown-up "topic" movies, but Kings Go Forth has not left much of a trail. Two GIs, stationed near the French Riviera toward the end of World War II, compete for the love of a local girl (Natalie Wood)...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
- Frank Sinatra
- Tony Curtis
- Natalie Wood
- Leora Dana
- Karl Swenson
Summary: Controversial and odd at times, but still a solid wartime romance. With the Sinatra-Curtis-Wood star trio, you can't go too wrong.