Producer Edmund Grainger selected a fine cast consisting of Frank Sinatra in the male lead, with support from Peter Lawford, Steve McQueen, Richard Johnson, Paul Henreid, Charles Bronson and Brian Donlevy, but Millard Kaufman’s screenplay – taken from Tom T Chamales’ book of the Burmese campaign during World War II – failed to create the necessary togetherness that a plotline should have.
Certain moral factors of the story are also never fully explained nor create justification for their action.
Captain Tom Reynolds (Sinatra) commands a small group of Kachin guerillas in the Burmese jungle who are assigned to attack a Japanese position near the Chinese border, having been ambushed earlier by a band of Nationalist Chinese.
Feeling that the war is not being handled efficiently by the Allies, he takes matters into his own hands and decides to wipe out the treacherous traitors of Chiang Kai Shek’s Chinese.
Carla Vesari (Gina Lollobrigida) arrives on the scene when Reynolds and his aide return to headquarters behind the lines seeking a medical officer to care for the wounded. Their initial meeting in a nightclub proves revelatory in that wealth and power – so far as this beauty is concerned – is much more desirable than Captain Reynolds’ sex appeal.
As the picture progresses and they come into contact again, the barriers are laid aside for the course of “true love”, and the ending is as pat as a pound of butter.
That she would give up her millionaire benefactor Nikko Regas (Paul Henreid) – who has made her a goddess with everything her heart desired – to go to Indianapolis with Reynolds is rather far-fetched.
Frank Sinatra is remarkable. He fights in the jungle, shooting like mad, but never sweats, never has a five o’clock shadow, and his hands are always beautifully manicured. The only thing he doesn’t do is take a dip in that circular marble bathtub. But Gina Lollobrigida does.
Steve McQueen shows that his TV appearances on Wanted: Dead or Alive had not restricted his versatility. As the know-it-all GI Bill Ringa he is at the right place at the right time and adds much humour and pathos in his first big-screen role.
Capt. Tom C. Reynolds
Capt. Grey Travis
Capt. Danny De Mortimer
Sgt. Jim Norby
Sgt. John Danforth
Col. Fred Parkson