9 May 2005 | bkoganbing
A Tale of Four Soldiers
I've always liked The Young Lions because it has the best explanation for the phenomenon that was Nazism in Germany. Always the question is asked how did they come to power? At the beginning with Marlon Brando romancing vacationing Barbara Rush in Bavaria on New Year's Eve, he provides one of the most lucid explanations of why people would choose to follow Adolph Hitler. It is one of Brando's finest moments on screen.
At the time of course he didn't know he was romancing the main squeeze of Dean Martin who with Montgomery Clift play the two American soldiers who's stories and growth as human beings is told. Martin is a Broadway musical comedy entertainer and Clift is just a department store clerk at Macy's who meet by chance at the draft board. Martin is trying to dodge the draft, Clift is fatalistically accepting what comes. Martin proves to be a man of far more character than we first think. Clift is a Jew and a man who with enough reason to be going to war against Hitler, has to deal with anti-Semitism here in America.
Clift and Martin's stories are told alternately with that of Brando and also Maximilian Schell. This was Schell's first appearance in an American production and he scores well as a proud Nazi officer. Let us just say that he gets quite a comeuppance all around during the course of this war he was so proud to be part of.
The two male actors who are always cited as the rebel heroes of post World War II America are Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. Too bad in their one film together they didn't exchange any dialog. Still I can't praise a film like The Young Lions too highly.