Three soldiers have their outlook on life drastically altered during the Second World War.
An idealistic German lieutenant begins to question his faith in Nazi ideology, an American singer does his best to dodge the draft, and a Jewish recruit encounters prejudice from his own side.
The action leapfrogs from Paris to America and from North Africa to Bavaria, taking nearly three hours to unravel.
But, while the script is turgid and Edward Dmytryk’s direction often slows to a crawl, the picture is an absolute corker for three reasons: Marlon Brando as straw-blonde nice guy Christian Diestl who becomes a Nazi and ends up a martyr; Montgomery Clift as Jewish GI Noah Ackerman; and Dean Martin as cowardly Broadway star Michael Whiteacre, who is Clift’s fellow draftee.
They fight over women (Hope Lange, May Britt), over principles, and overact only some of the time, as they stumble towards a climax where stark irony rules the day.
Adapted by Edward Anhalt from the doorstop novel by Irwin Shaw, The Young Lions oozes self-importance in every scene.
Lt. Christian Diestl
First Sergeant Rickett
Lee Van Cleef