In lesser hands, this movie would have been one long soap opera, but this adaptation of James Jones’ rather bawdy novel manages to wring real human drama out of its characters instead. The real miracle is that the filmmakers managed to tame the rather explicit novel enough to appease the censors and still stay true to the spirit of the story. If all you remember or know about this movie is Burt Lancaster’s famous clinch on the beach with Deborah Kerr, then you owe yourself a viewing of this movie, which has a lot more to offer.
Stanley Kramer’s second courtroom drama starring Spencer Tracy in as many years is mostly an actor’s tour de force, but surprisingly not for the film’s nominal stars, Tracy and Burt Lancaster. Both of these veterans step back and let a handful of others take center screen. The talent pool is so deep in this film that the fifth-billed actor, Maximilian Schell, took home a Best Actor Oscar, the deepest that award has gone into a film’s “bench.”
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The film is a heavily fictionalized version of the actual Judges Trial during the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. Continue reading