ALL THE YOUNG MEN—-All The Cliches You Can Handle in 87 minutes, written, produced and directed by Hall Bartlett. The sentiments are delivered this time in the snows of Korea (subbing are Montana’s Glacier National Park and Oregon’s Mt.Hood).
After a very well-staged opening ambush scene, surviving members of a Marine platoon dig in at a farmhouse, with the intention of holding off hordes of Chinese (represented by a few dozen extras) until battalion comes to the rescue.
Command of all the young men has been given to Sidney Poitier: forthright, noble, brave and—object to a slew of complaints from the rest of the guys. Former sarge Alan Ladd resents being passed over by the new man; southern redneck Paul Richards hates his guts just because; comedian Mort Sahl will go either way; teen-bait James Darren sings; I-should-have-stayed-a-boxer Ingemar Johansson is stoic, resident exotic lady-in-peril Ana St. Clair mouths platitudes about democracy.
Other than Poitier, who maybe overdoes earnestness here, the acting by all is pretty bland. A tank runs over Ladd’s foot, lots of Reds bite the frost, South Korea is saved for a corrupt right-wing dictatorship.* Lukewarm 1960 matinee programmer can be commended for making a timely and then-controversial plea for integration, which had started in the military in 1948, but was still not fully complete when this came out, and the release of the film coincided with North Carolina lunch counter sit-in’s that further goosed the Civil Rights movement. Because of the racial animosity that was still keeping the nation fragmented, the film had two different publicity campaigns, one for the North, one for the South. Poitier’s star moved up another notch. The $1,000,000 film (Ladd co-produced) grossed over $4,140,000, coming in #40 for the year. With Glenn Corbett, Richard Davalos and Lee Kinsolving. Ana St.Clair was an Argentine playing a Korean: she also happened to be the director’s wife.
* Yes, I know how swell North Korea is: I’m not knocking the suffering and sacrifice of the men sent over there to fight.