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The Young Lions

Can three lives be irrevocably changed by war? Yes, and The Young Lions proves it so. There are some bumps and valleys through the story, which could have been easily smoothed out with the exclusion of Dean Martin and Marlon Brando's characters. The focus of the work is definitely Montgomery Clift as Noah Ackerman. Hope Lange is his delicious girlfriend Hope Plowman, a middle- class New Yorker in love with his Jewish charm. The conflict is at home, assaulting the so called sensibilities of her father. Once that is aside, he goes to boot camp, and finds even more hatred within the ranks. Basted on by fiery Sgt. Lee Van Cleef, in a rather small role, Clift is pummeled relentlessly mentally and physically. He finds a friend, Martin, and hope. He finds his way, through a tumultuous experiment in masochism, and mysteriously gets back into the war. Dean Martin finds his way out, but eventually returns to his 'mates' as his 'love' spurns him. It could've been the drinking, you know how Dean is.

But what about Marlon? Playing Christian Diestl, he starts the movie, denouncing Nazism, and a war that he thinks will surely be useless and end in ruin. He has hope for humanity. Unfortunately, his faith denies him; Marlon gets snared into the war trap. As a Lieutenant, he gets his say about everything, and tends to fall onto the ears of a dear friend that sympathizes with everything peaceful. Early on, Brando's character is set into the cogs of the war machine and only occasionally does he step out of the bridle of fascism. It's the episodes of contradiction and humility that make Brando shine. Anything else is a waste of his talent in this venue.

As war goes on, Clift is resolute in returning home, and shifts into bravery. Brando, on the other hand, is on the losing team. The Nazis are retreating and Brando still feels as if he has a duty to perform. Once he sees the travesty of war, he comes around, and spends much time near the end contemplating life; for the living and for the regretfully dead(?).

The story, blah, blah. Too much filler. Obviously there was some attempt at psychological investigation. But with three characters to follow, and no real insight to the people around them, some people may become restless watching it. The peaks are great, though, and still well worth viewing.

Cinematography - Not spectacular. Considering the period that it was made in, expectations for grand wide shots will not be present, not any grandiose battle scenes. Most of the action, on and off of the field, are filmed in tight shots. It's a sturdy 50s movie, bulging with 60s idealism. Strange fate for a movie dealing with the pains of World War II. Acting - Bright spots only in Montgomery Clift and Hope Lange. Clift brilliantly starts out as a shell, with a fertile egg growing inside, going through stages and coming out at just the right time. As I mentioned before, and in fairness to him, Dean Martin's character should not have been written. Marlon Brando's Christian had too many lows, but had some of the best interplay of the whole shebang. His commander- a magnificent act by Maximilian Schell (remember him from Flash Gordon?), his friend, and a concentration camp Commandant all shined around Brando.

With a little more tweaking, the movie could've been a contender.

Rate - [Cinematography: 2
Screenplay: 2
Acting: 3
Overall: 2.3]
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