The Young Lions

Released in 1958, this black and white WW2 story traces 3 men - two American, one German - through the trials and tribulations of that war. Stars Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin.

Marlon is a young German watchmaker who always dreamed of being a doctor - but the strict caste system of europe has held him down. While he realizes the Nazis are a bit extreme, he hopes they will help to bring opportunity to all people.

Dean is a young Broadway god who loves the wine, women and song. When he's drafted, he tries to get out of it, to maintain his easy going life. He runs into Noah (Clift) at the draft board - a young, poor Jewish man who has no family and only a simple job at Macy's. The two hang out and Noah falls in love with a quiet Vermont girl.

The movie is truly an epic as it spans the entire war, from its quiet start to its brutal end. Along the way we realize that there is good and bad on all sides. Marlon's character tries to make a stand for what is right, but is told repeatedly that a good German soldier follows orders. He falls in love with a French widow. Noah is repeatedly beaten on (both emotionally and literally) for being a poor Jew by those whose side he is on. His future father in law only reluctantly accepts him, and his squadron mates steal his money and fight him. Dean refuses to marry his long time sweetheart and does his best to avoid any risks.

While some might say the story is a cliche, perhaps this is only because the story is so TRUE. It is always good to be reminded just how rough a war really is, and how there are no real "bad guys" and "good guys". There are only brave men and women who try their best and grow along the awy.

Although filmed in black and white, you do get some lovely Bavarian landscapes at the beginning, when Marlon is a ski instructor. Later, Marlon goes to Berlin a few times to meet with the wife of his commanding officer. The rest of the footage is in war-torn Paris, the surrounding countryside, the deserts of Africa, and the cities of London and New York.

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