The Young Lions

  • 1958
  • Movie
  • NR
  • War

A somewhat bloated adaptation of Irwin Shaw's sprawling WWII novel, THE YOUNG LIONS follows three soldiers--one German, two American--from the time of their enlistment until the end of the war. Christian Diestl (Marlon Brando) is an idealistic young German who believes in Hitler and becomes a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht. As he makes his way from the occupation...read more

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A somewhat bloated adaptation of Irwin Shaw's sprawling WWII novel, THE YOUNG LIONS follows three soldiers--one German, two American--from the time of their enlistment until the end of the war. Christian Diestl (Marlon Brando) is an idealistic young German who believes in Hitler and

becomes a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht. As he makes his way from the occupation of Paris to duty in Rommel's Afrika Korps and then back into Europe, Diestl becomes disillusioned and embittered over Nazi brutality and comes to hate his uniform and everything it represents. Meanwhile, in the US, a

young Jew, Noah Ackerman (Montgomery Clift), and a popular singer, Michael Whiteacre (Dean Martin), meet as draftees and become fast friends. Although patriotic and dedicated, Ackerman becomes the victim of the Army's anti-Semitism, and is forced to fight his fellow Americans before ever facing

the Germans. As the years go by, the fates of Ackerman, Whiteacre, and Diestl grow closer, until they eventually intersect outside a concentration camp. Great departures were made in the script from Shaw's original story, mostly in the character of the German, Diestl. In the book, he is an

unredeemed Nazi to the last, and in the final confrontation kills the Jewish soldier, then is killed by the other American. It was largely Brando who made the German a sympathetic character, arguing that Shaw had written his book in the immediate, angry aftermath of the war, although Shaw later

told the actor that he wouldn't have changed his opinions even if he had written the book 10 years later. Although Edward Dmytryk's direction was never more than workmanlike and the film is bit overlong and draggy at times, it does contain a pair of worthwhile performances from Brando and

Clift.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A somewhat bloated adaptation of Irwin Shaw's sprawling WWII novel, THE YOUNG LIONS follows three soldiers--one German, two American--from the time of their enlistment until the end of the war. Christian Diestl (Marlon Brando) is an idealistic young German… (more)

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