When Lieutennant Christian Diestl (Brando) romanced Margaret Freemantle (Barbara Rush) in Bavaria on New Year's Eve, he had no way of knowing that she was the squeeze of an American soldier who is just as misplaced in the war as he. So ensues a tale of soldiers from unlikely backgrounds set against each-other in parallel narratives which unexpectedly meet through a love interest.
Based on the fat Irwin Shaw novel, this is WWI I as seen through the eyes of three of its combatants fighting at the front and romancing on leave: disillusioned Nazi-with-a-h eart Marlon Brando, Jewish-American loner Montgomery Clift and easy-going ex-Broadway entertainer Dean Martin.
Wide-ranging, bloated and heavy on morals and coincidence (Brando and Martin share a girlfriend and later meet up on the battlefield), this 1957 epic still has a standout performance from Brando (sympathetic rather than the monster of the book) and some excellent music and photography.
Moving and saturated with certain kind of moral understanding, this is not an easy movie to watch, but still one worth watching for Brando's mesmerizing performance alone.