All the Young Men (1960)
“All the young women will love all the young men!”
Director: Hall Bartlett
Cast: Alan Ladd, Sidney Poitier, James Darren
Synopsis: During the Korean War,a platoon leader dies leaving his inexperienced black sergeant in charge of his squad of belligerent and racist white men.
An advance party of marines in Korea is ambushed by snipers, and their dying lieutenant hands over command of the unit to black sergeant Eddie Towler (Sidney Poitier – Band of Angels, A Patch of Blue), much to the dismay of many of the other men. Chief complainant is bigoted Southerner Private Bracken (Paul Richards), but Kincaid (Alan Ladd – The Glass Key, Lucky Jordan), a former sergeant busted to the ranks who is vastly more experienced in combat situations, also resents the selection of Towler. A talented writer could have squeezed some interest out of this clichéd scenario, but writer Hall Bartlett (upon whose Zero Hour! the comedy Airplane! was based) isn’t that writer. Most of the characters – but Bracken in particular – are cardboard stereotypes with no distinguishing qualities, and Bartlett keeps skirting around the key issues instead of tackling them head on. Ladd looks a lot older than his 47 years, and doesn’t look like he really cares about the quality of the film or his performance, while Poitier, by this time in his career, must have been wondering if he’d ever get a film role that didn’t trade on the colour of his skin.
(Reviewed 7th November 2014)