7 May 2008 | moonspinner55
Hollywood's overfed fascination with WWII continues...
Frank Sinatra made an awful lot of World War II pictures, though he never looked terribly convincing dressed in battle uniform (especially the helmet, which covers most of him). Here, he's a no-nonsense Lieutenant with the U.S. Army stationed in France, fighting the Germans as well as Corporal Tony Curtis, an educated, self-assured trust fund kid on the run from his life of privilege. They spar a bit before becoming buddies, but when Curtis quickly and skillfully steals Sinatra's girl away...well, war is hell. The girl is played by Natalie Wood--she's French by way of West Virginia and Philadelphia!--and there's some hesitant talk early on of her being from a white mother and a black father (it gives Frank momentary pause, but Tony thinks of her ancestry as a novelty). The European locations are well-chosen, though director Delmer Daves' staging is sometimes poor (Frank is struck by Natalie the first time he sees her--which is to say, the back of her head!). The battle scenes are also disappointing, hurt mostly by choppy editing, and when Sinatra and Curtis take on a treacherous plan of attack near the end, we're not sure why these two were picked (other than the fact they're the stars). Not a very good movie, but not a boring one either. Wood's accent is for the birds, but Curtis fills the bill nicely and Sinatra does a solid dramatic turn. His narration is overused, and he has more chemistry with the woman playing Wood's mother than Nat herself; but, for a wartime soaper, a fairly interesting occasion. **1/2 from ****