"The Young Lions" was a movie made for Marlon Brando. Unfortunately, it was a good hour and a half too long. At close to three hours, "The Young Lions" starts to wear on the viewer, who might start glancing at their watch more than viewing some great
Directors: Edward Dmytryk
Producers: Al Lichtman
Writers: Edward Anhalt
Features: Theatrical Trailer; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection; Anamorphic Widescreen; Audio: English, Spanish, French Stereo; Subtitles: English, Spanish
Lt. Christian Diestl - Marlon Brando
Noah Ackerman - Montgomery Clift
Michael Whiteacre - Dean Martin
"The Young Lions" was a movie made for Marlon Brando. Unfortunately, it was a good hour and a half too long. At close to three hours, "The Young Lions" starts to wear on the viewer, who might start glancing at their watch more than viewing some great acting sequences by Brando and Clift.
The DVD itself still has the old black and white picture, with those little spots that sometimes flicker in the old movies. I kind of like to see those spots because it feels like I'm in a theater. The trailer was old school, but I enjoy watching those old trailers. This one was humerous in how it played up the movie, giving it a lot of hype. With the exception of the trailer, the other features are standard. I would have liked to see a commentary track with Brando explaining some of the sequences, but sadly that was not to be the case.
The story centers around the lives of three individuals, the young lions as the title would indicate. The backdrop is of course the greatest world conflict in recent memory, WWII. How the war shapes and changes the lives of these three men is the running theme. Marlon Brando ("The Godfather") plays a German officer named Christian Diestl. Diestl has internal conflicts about his role in the war and the cause of the Nazis. Initially he was for it, but as the war progresses he starts to doubt his convictions.
Montgomery Clift plays Noah Ackerman, a shy Jewish man who is molded by the war into a strong soldier. The change is amazing and even Clift's face seems to age with the war's troubles upon him. He is the source of discrimination in the Army, and the butt of pranks by his fellow soldiers. How he handles the torment, but still face the adversities of the war are worth noting.
Dean Martin ("Living It Up") stars as the playboy Michael Whiteacre. He is a Broadway star that does not want to get involved with the war, and stops just short of avoiding the draft. When all his political connections fail him, he goes off to the war with Ackerman, who he befriends. However, his connections do get him a posh post in England, where he drinks his troubles away. He later returns to the front with Ackerman to battle Hitler's army. As can be expected, these three men meet at the end in one final conflict.
This movie was entertaining, but extremely long. The character of Dean Martin was superfluous in my opinion, with the exception that he brought Ackerman and his wife together at a party. You could take Dino's part out and the movie could have been shorter by 30 minutes. Also, the movie spent too much time on the homefront, considering this was a war movie. Though I do understand why this was done, because the adequate character development was needed. However, that ate up a bunch of time as well.
Basically, this movie could have gone through a big editing job, to take out some of the fluff that was in it. It was well done, and the directing was great in every scene, but it was just too long. Brando and Clift get the awards for the best performances, but there were good female performances by Hope Lange and Barbara Rush. The length may be explained by the fact that it was based on a book by Irwin Shaw, but I still think that the editing was not done well.
The war sequences are good, which allows me to recommend this film to all you viewers. The characters, for the most part, are likeable with the exception of the annoying Dean Martin. I would rate this film three stars out of five, and recommend everyone to go ahead and see the movie. If you are a war movie buff, but still want your wife or girlfriend to watch the movie, be assured that all will be satisfied. The movie has action, but also dramatic scenes, especially with Brando. Just make sure you block off three hours of your day to watch it!