A callow Southern aristocrat (the charismatically challenged Robert Wagner) acquires character and democratic values in the crucible of combat, via a laboriously complicated script that begins in the middle of things and then loads on explanatory flashbacks like a forklift. On "an island in the Pacific, 1945," the scion of a Tennessee cotton dynasty becomes not only comrade-in-arms but also friend to the sharecroppers he once scorned. Although the jungle island is crawling with Japanese snipers and patrols, the greatest danger comes from U.S. officers who are variously incompetent, "yellow," or--in the case of company commander Broderick Crawford--certifiably insane. Screenwriter Harry Brown wrote the World War II classic A Walk in the Sun
11 years earlier, but the characters here are a dull lot and the dialogue terminally flatfooted. However, director Richard Fleischer blocks his action scenes to take full advantage of the CinemaScope format. --Richard T. Jameson
Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Broderick Crawford and Buddy Ebsen star in this absorbing drama about a young, self-centered recruit who comes of age during WWII. Sam Gifford (Wagner) is a successful cotton planter who treats his sharecroppers as if they were little more than farm machinery. But during combat in the Pacific, as he sees "quality" people crack, endures life under a sadistic officer (Crawford), and learns true friendship, from a "cropper" (Ebsen), Gifford slowly discovers there's more to a person than social class and good breeding.