Monday, September 16, 2019

None But the Brave

I mentioned a week or two ago that I had happened inadvertently to watch several movies set in World War II in short order. One of them was None But the Brave, which I have on DVD as part of a five-film box set of Frank Sinatra movies.

The first thing I noticed was in the opening titles:

My first thought was that the box set must have been produced for the Asian market and that Amazon was selling it on the gray market or something, but a look at IMDb revealed that the movie was a co-production between Warner Bros. (via Frank Sinatra's production company) and Japan's Toho Film:

The movie starts off with the Japanese point of view, narrated by Lt. Kuroki (Tatsuya Mihashi). A bunch of Japanese soldiers are on an isolated island in the South Pacific, abandoned because they have no radio contact with Japan, so they try to build a boat to get off the island. As with Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, though, the war is about to come back to them in the form of an American transport plane that's stricken and forced to crash land, which it does right on their island. The pilot, Capt. Bourke (Clint Walker) tries to keep command of the Marines he's been piloting, as well as a medic, Mate (Frank Sinatra).

However, Bourke and the Marines are about to encounter a bunch of problems, since there are all those Japanese on the island. Lt. Blair (Tommy Sands) wants to attack, and do so in a way that's liable to get them all killed -- and Bourke knows it as does Mate. Eventually, the Americans and Japanese encounter each other, and fighting does break out.

But Lt. Kuroki isn't too thrilled by the prospect. He wasn't a particular fan of war to begin with, since he tends to believing it's futile. But trying to fight the Americans now is going to kill everybody on both sides. More pressing is that the Americans have a medic -- and the stranded Japanese don't. And Kuroki has a man with gangrene that absolutely has to be treated. So the two sides arrange a truce for the time being, so that Mate can treat the Japanese soldier, and all of them can focus on survival. The truce should only end when one or the other country's external forces show up to re-take the island, at which point both groups on the island should feel honor bound to fight with valor.

Not that Lt. Blair likes it, but Bourke isn't about to let Blair scupper things. Slowly, the two sides begin to learn to respect each other, knowing however, that the time is going to come when their little respite from the war is going to be broken from outside.

None But the Brave is a really interesting little movie, showing the war in a way Hollywood hadn't done much up to this point. That's partly because of the co-production, I think. In any case, I think it's greatly to the movie's benefit. Frank Sinatra directed, the only time he did so. He's not terrible as a director, but I think there's a reason that he didn't keep directing. He's also not helped by a shrill and obnoxious performance out of Sands. I don't know if Sands was that incompetent of an actor or Sinatra didn't know how to get a better performance out of him.

Despite the movie's flaws, None But the Brave is definitely worth a watch because of the much more human perspective on the Japanese soldiers.

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