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All The Young Men
movies, Drama

1960 | 16:9 | Black & White | Quality: Excellent

Alan Ladd

Sidney Poitier

James Darren


In the hellish mountains of Korea during the Korean war, a marine platoon is attacked and their commanding officer is mortally wounded. Just before he dies he places platoon Sgt Eddie Towler (Sidney Poitier) in charge and orders him to complete their dangerous assignment: to capture a key position, a farm house, that is the only place where a battalion of some 1,000 retreating US Marines can make it to safety and link up with UN forces to the south preventing them from being massacred by the Communist hordes. Complicating matters is not only the fact that Towler is inexperienced, but he is also a black man amongst whites and must face off with racist southern redneck Pvt. Bracken (Paul Richards) and also an 11 year veteran Pvt Kinkaid (Alan Ladd) who feels he is the better choice to lead. Sgt Towers takes no guff and often shows his anger, but is determined to hold to the last man, grenade, and round of ammunition even if he ends up being killed by one of his fellow Marines in doing it! A great supporting cast is on hand including singer James Darren; political satirist Mort Sahl; then World Heavyweight Champion Ingemar Johanssen as a Swedish immigrant; Glenn Corbett as the kindly medic; as well as a Navajo Indian (Mario Alcalde) and the typical scared, green kid.

This movie benefits from some striking monochrome photography which is particularly well in evidence during its opening scenes ;these show a US patrol proceeding through snow encrusted mountains when it comes under attack from a Communist force. In the resulting battle the platoon leader is killed and hands over authority to the unit's sole black soldier (effectively played by Sidney Poitier) rather than to its most experienced member, Kincaid (Alan Ladd), to whom the men have always looked up. Poitier's presence is felt throughout with his best scenes being with Paul Richards after catching him trying to rape a Korean woman whose house they're temporarily staying at. Despite his production company -Jaguar- being in charge, Alan Ladd leaves most of the picture to Poitier though occasionally he has some good scenes like when he talks to a fellow soldier about his wife and kid. The film is at its most tense when it deals with the silence - all the young men knowing that at any moment the enemy could appear out of nowhere. There are some very gruesome moments, one involving a hostage situation and another involving a Korean tank set on fire. Basically, this is about survival and the ugliness of a war mostly totally forgotten. Perhaps with tensions rising between North Korea and much of the world, films like this will start to be remembered and the history books will be picked up a bit more.

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