Dir: Fred Zinnerman | Cast: Marlon Brando, Teresa Wright, Everett Sloane, Jack Webb | US Action drama 85′
Even in his first film Marlon Brando dominates the screen with his feral physicality, a sullen, tempestuous and charismatic presence that burns through this black and white anti-war action drama. Made on a low budget but none the worse for it, The Men opens with the worthy message that for paraplegic veterans battle is a two way process: the first fought with the sword, the second with determination in the face of frustration.
After being injured in active service, Ken Wilocek (Brando) finds himself bedridden in hospital, his spinal cord shattered. Under the care of the dour Dr Brock (Sloane) the ward is full of strapping young men struck down in their prime, yet Brock pussy-foots around the subject of impotence, clearly uppermost in their minds as they reintegrate into female society. To their wives and girlfriends Brock is unhelpful, making it clear that he is ‘not the marrying kind’.
Wilocek’s prissy fiancee (Wright) professes undying love, but Wilocek gives her short shrift, refusing pity and avoiding sentimentality. To Dimitri Tiomkin’s jaunty score, he then embarks on a fierce regime of rehabilitation along with his chipper ward fellows, amongst them Jack Webb and Arthur Jurado are notable. No mention is made of the world outside, nor is any political context given. This is Marlon’s film and his brooding luminosity shines out, a star if ever there was one. MT
NOW ON BLURAY COURTESY OF THE Bfi | 16 May 2022