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Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra, Clint Walker, Tommy Sands
Writing Credits:
John Twist, Katsuya Susaki

During WWII, a platoon of Marines crash-lands on a tiny Pacific island occupied by a small Japanese unit.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/11/2019

• Trailer


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None But The Brave [Blu-Ray] (1965)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 27, 2019)

While I was well aware of Frank Sinatra’s career as a film actor, not until 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 those Americans butt heads, the two sides of the war 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 took 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 derive from the generally dull Brave, and 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, so 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 Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

None But the Brave appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. 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 absent. Overall, the flick looked very good and held up well after 54 years.

The DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Brave seemed dated but fine. Effects showed okay range and were generally satisfactory despite a smidgen of distortion connected to louder elements.

The rest of the mix seemed good, as speech was natural and concise. Music displayed acceptable clarity, though not a lot of range came with the score. Given its age and source, this felt like a satisfactory track.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio seemed a bit clearer and less distorted, whereas visuals appeared tighter and more dynamic. The Blu-ray became a nice upgrade.

We find the film’s theatrical trailer and no other extras. 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 deep character piece, but instead it simply rambles and fails to go anywhere. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and fairly positive audio but it skimps on supplements. Brave offers a historical footnote since it represented Frank Sinatra’s directorial debut, but it doesn’t deliver much of a movie.

To rate this film, visit the original review of NONE BUT THE BRAVE

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