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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Frank Sinatra
Cast:
Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker, Tommy Sands, Brad Dexter, Tony Bill, Sammy Jackson, Richard Bakalyan, Rafer Johnson, Tatsuya Mihashi
Writing Credits:
Kikumaru Okuda (story), John Twist, Katsuya Susaki

Synopsis:
A troop of Japanese soldiers are stranded on an island during World War II. When a plane carrying U.S. servicemen is forced to land there, the Japanese are dismayed at having to share the land with their adversary. But after an American medic helps an injured Japanese serviceman, both groups agree to a truce on one condition: that neither group calls for help. If that pact is broken, warfare can commence. When the Americans fix their airplane radio, will they risk using it and starting a battle?

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $12.97
Release Date: 5/13/2008

Bonus:
• Trailer


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


None But The Brave: Frank Sinatra Collection (1965)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 2, 2008)

While I was well aware of Frank Sinatra’s career as a film actor, not until the DVD for 1965’s None But the Brave landed on my door did I realize he’d ever done more than that. For Brave, not only did Sinatra star in the flick, but also he took on the directorial reins for the first time in his career. And the last time, too, as Sinatra never stepped behind the camera again. I don’t know why Old Blue Eyes didn’t direct another film, but that aspect of Brave makes it an interesting curiosity, if nothing else.

Set during World War II, the film takes us to an unnamed, useless island in the Solomon Archipelago. The Japanese put a platoon there to “defend” it, but now they’re essentially forgotten and stranded there. To rectify their plight, they plan to build a boat and escape.

In the midst of this, a US Marine transport plane gets shot down and crashes on the tiny island. Initially they believe the island contains no inhabitants, but they soon find evidence that Japanese soldiers reside there. This leads to a contest for authority between flight officer Captain Bourke (Clint Walker) and platoon leader 2nd Lt. Blair (Tommy Sands).

While they butt heads, the two sides of the war effort also battle each other. Many of their efforts deal with control of the boat built by the Japanese; the Americans see it as their best way to get off the island, so they pursue it as well. We follow the various conflicts as well as the unusual way Chief Pharmacist Mate Maloney (Sinatra) becomes involved after negotiations with Japanese Lt. Kuroki (Tatsuya Mihashi)

It’s astounding to watch Brave and think that WWII ended only 20 years earlier. That’s not a vast period of time, but the difference in the 1945 treatment of Japanese and the 1965 viewpoint seems enormous. In 1945, Japanese were portrayed as vicious, buck-toothed sub-humans. No one at that time would be able to envision an approach to them that takes a much more sympathetic touch a mere 20 years hence.

The recognition of the ways attitudes change over time becomes one of the few genuinely interesting aspects of Brave. As a singer, Sinatra was a legend. As an actor, he was quite good. As a director? Ehh.

At least that’s the impression I took from the generally dull Brave. The film’s main problem stems from the way Sinatra tells its tale. Brave boasts a pretty intriguing concept in the way it depicts the relationships between the warring soldiers, but it never does much to invest in the personalities beyond a superficial level.

This becomes more obvious when the flick tries harder to develop its themes. We know little about Kiroki and Bourke – the main protagonists – but suddenly the film pulls flashbacks out of its pocket. Obviously these occur in an attempt at greater depth, but they don’t work. They feel like tardy bits of exposition that do more to call attention to the movie’s problems than they do to solve them.

At least Mihashi and Walker attempt to provide believable personalities for their characters. Sinatra seems like he’s on cruise control as the boozy Maloney; his performance would feel more at home in a Rat Pack flick than it does here. Sands offers the worst work of the bunch, though. As the gung ho Lt. Blair, he plays the part straight out of Gomer Pyle. Sands’ Blair is ridiculously cartoony, and his scenes suffer due to his choices. Honestly, Sands looks so silly that his performance could easily be seen as the inspiration for Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.

The “Japs are people, too!” theme remains arguably the most interesting aspect of Brave, though Sinatra tries too hard to make the result a 1960s-style plea for peace. The flick ends with the tagline “nobody ever wins”, a message that seems weird for a story about WWII. Granted, the battles that occur in the film are meaningless, and I sure won’t contend that war is a good thing. But are we supposed to leave with the thought that WWII was a pointless battle?

I’m not quite sure what Sinatra wants us to take from the message of Brave beyond simplistic “all men are brothers” ideas and the view that war sucks. Okay… and? Brave isn’t a bad film, but it’s one that meanders too much and lacks the drive to become involving.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus D-

None But the Brave appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I found a very pleasing transfer here.

Given the flick’s desolate island setting, I didn’t expect bright, vivacious hues, and the results were appropriately subdued. Greens and tans were the order of the day. The colors seemed accurate and full throughout the movie. Blacks seemed dark and firm, and shadows were pretty solid. Some “day for night” photography looked iffy, but more natural shots looked fine.

Sharpness satisfied. Only a smidgen of softness ever materialized in a few wide shots. Otherwise, the image seemed accurate and well-defined. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws remained minimal. I detected the occasional speck or mark but nothing else. Overall, the flick looked very good and held up well after 43 years.

The monaural soundtrack of Brave seemed more ordinary. Effects showed the mix’s weakness, as some louder elements like explosions or planes could crackle a bit. These components showed okay range, though, and were generally satisfactory, but the light distortion could distract.

The rest of the mix seemed good. Speech was natural and concise; looping didn’t match the onscreen action at all times, but the quality of the lines was fine. Music displayed acceptable clarity, though not a lot of range came with the score. Nothing special cropped up for this track, so I thought it deserved a “C”.

One complaint came from the DVD’s presentation of subtitles. Brave included a fair amount of Japanese dialogue, and the subtitles translated those lines. That’s good, but the manner in which it presented the text became a distraction. The only subtitle option displayed all of the English dialogue as well; it didn’t simply show the translated Japanese. This meant that I needed to leave on the subtitles through the whole movie, and that became an irritation.

Virtually no supplements appear here. We find the film’s theatrical trailer and nothing else. At least the ad is a little more interesting than most. At four minutes, 20 seconds, it’s rather long, and it opens with a unique intro from Sinatra.

Well-meaning but dull, None But the Brave never gets off the ground. It aspires to provide a meaningful character piece, but instead it simply rambles and fails to go anywhere. Though the DVD boasts very good picture quality, audio seems average and no significant supplements appear. Brave is a historical footnote since it represented Frank Sinatra’s directorial debut, but it isn’t much of a movie.

Note that you can buy this version of None But the Brave on its own or as part of a five-movie package called “The Frank Sinatra Collection: The Golden Years”. This set also includes The Man With the Golden Arm, Some Come Running, The Tender Trap, and Marriage On the Rocks. Purchased individually, each DVD retails for $12.97, but the “Golden Years” box comes for $39.92. That makes it a good deal for fans who want to own all five – or even just four – of the films.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
25:
04:
0 3:
12:
01:
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