Frank Sinatra told the director to give the newcomer a break. John Sturges (The Great Escape) obliged, providing favorable camera angles for Sinatra's young co-star. In his first big-budget film, Steve McQueen was ready to... more » grab the movie world's attention. McQueen plays Bill Ringa, one of the O.S.S. combatants harassing the enemy in World War II Burma. Sinatra is Capt. Tom Reynolds, leading the guerilla fighters and risking court martial while doing so. Also among Never So Few's many are Charles Bronson, Peter Lawford and in her first Hollywood film, Gina Lollobrigida. About McQueen, the New York Herald Tribune's reviewer wrote: "He possesses that combination of smooth-rough charm that suggests star possibilities." A star is born in Never So Few.« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Spectacular cinematography and a strong cast make this a film worth watching, despite a script that is sometimes stilted. Sinatra as always fills the screen with his presence, and he is backed by one of my favorite British actors, Richard Johnson, and stealing every scene that he's in is Steve McQueen, in one of his early post-"The Blob" roles. Also excellent is Brian Donleavy, and another early appearance of a future star, Charles Bronson, There is a big romance, and here is where the film lags. The bathtub scene should have been left on the cutting room floor, and a few others trimmed. Gina Lollobrigida however is exquisitely beautiful in the thankless role of a woman living with an older, wealthy man (Paul Henreid), until Sinatra saunters into her life. Others in the cast include Peter Lawford, Dean Jones, and if you don't blink, you'll see the future Star Trek Captain Sulu, George Takei, complaining about his hospital food.
The WWII plot is about jungle combat with the Kachin native troops in Burma, with both the Japanese and Chinese as the enemy. Captain Reynolds (Sinatra) and his men are outnumbered, and break rules for the sake of survival. Reynolds is unconventional, sometimes brutal when necessary, and smart; it's a great part for Sinatra, and he makes the most of it. There are wonderful vistas, filmed by William Daniels (the cinematographer for many Sinatra films), and the screenplay by Tom Chamales was based on his novel. The direction by John Sturges is good in the action sequences, and Sturges was so impressed with McQueen's work, that he cast him in his next film, "The Magnificent Seven," and two years later in "The Great Escape." Total running time is 125 minutes. "
Never so Few: A Visonary War Movie of Things To Come
James Eret | Yucca Valley, California | 11/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1959,no one heard of Vietnam or the struggles with the Indo-China question,or at least the American public did not know much about the Far East and its complicated politics. The Excellent "Never So Few" really comes out of nowhere to become a topnotch war film and predicts the Vietnam War in some of its implications.The director John Sturges has always been a great action director, for this is the director that gave us the wonderful classic, "The Great Escape," among many very good action films and the action sequences in this movie are vibrant, real, and startling. The cast is excellent. Frank Sinatra has never been better save "The Manchurian Candidate," probably his best role and of course Maggio in "From Here to Eternity," which he won an Academy Award for.He is totally convincing here as the guerilla officer leader of the native forces in Burma with some "advisors" and the similarities are many to Vietnam, when the sides blurr and decisions are made out of necessities over military orders.Other standouts in the cast went on to become superstars. Steve McQueen steals many scenes he is in and gives portents of stardom to come. John Sturges uses him beautifully here and of course again in "The Great Escape." Others include Charles Bronson before he got the Death Wish, Dean Jones, Richard Johnson( One of Kim Novak's husbands for a short time but here and excellent actor), and Gina Lollobrigida, who brings the action to a stop and the romantic scenes don't ring as true as the rest of the film. But overall, "Never So Few" is an action film that holds up fairly well, telegraphs future movie stars, and has an epic stature it really earns. Sturges was one of our best action directors and "Never So Few" is one of his better efforts. Re-dicover it. A great movie of action and substance."
Excellent war story, not so great love story
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 08/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Never So Few is an excellent WWII adventure that deals with a part of the war that very few other movies even go near. Captain Tom Reynolds is the leader of a force of Americans and Kachins, Burmese natives, who wreak havoc on Japanese forces in the Burmese jungle in whichever way they can. During an ordered vacation, Reynolds falls in love as well as picking up a doctor, a driver, and much needed medical supplies. This is a very good movie that suffers because of an unneccesary love story. I know this part was inserted to draw people in, but the movie is much better when it deals with Reynolds and his Kachin unit. The action scenes are very well done at the beginning and the end while most of the middle portion is occupied by the relationship between Reynolds and Carla. Even with the love story, this is still a very enjoyable film.
Never So Few boasts an impressive cast that works well together. Frank Sinatra in the role of Capt. Tom Reynolds is very good as the leader of the Americans and Kachins harassing the Japanese. Gina Lollobrigida is decent as Carla, but as I said I think the love story was not needed. Reynolds' men include Richard Johnson as right-hand man Lt. Demortimer, Steve McQueen in an excellent supporting role as Cpl. Bill Ringa, Peter Lawford as doctor Captain Travis, Dean Jones as radioman Sergeant Norby, Charles Bronson as Navajo Indian Sergeant Danforth, and Philip Ahn as Nautang, the leader of the Kachins. The film also stars Brian Donlevy in a great supporting role, Paul Henreid, and Robert Bray. The recently released DVD includes a great-looking widescreen presentation, a theatrical trailer, and a trailer for the Season 1 DVD of Wanted: Dead or Alive, McQueen's western tv show. Love story aside, if you like Sinatra and WWII action movies then you'll love Never So Few."
Frank Sinatra and his guerrillas take on a Chinese warlord
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Captains Tom Reynolds (Frank Sinatra) and Danny DeMortimer (Richard Johnson) are fighting the Japanese in Burma during World War II. Ordered to take a "holiday" to Calcutta to find a doctor and get medical supplies for their group of guerrillas, they find Dr. Grey Travis (Peter Lawford) and a driver named Bill Ringa (Steve McQueen). But the two officers also meet war profiteer Nikko Regas (Paul Henried) and his mistress, Carla Vesari (Gina Lollobrigida). Although she is not responsive to Reynold's initial overtures, when she warms up to the captain when he is in the hospital after being wounded. When Reynolds returns to the field he has to put up with not only the Japanese, but a Chinese warlord who is stealing American supplies to sell to the Japanese. The main problem with "Never So Few" is the romance between Sinatra and Lollobrigida, which gets in the way of what is a more than decent story of O.S.S. operatives in the Burma theater. I know this is sacrilegious, but every time Gina came on screen, I went to make popcorn or get something to drink. There is really no chemistry between the two. Only when Sinatra is with his troops out in the jungle is "Never So Few" on the right track. This 1959 film, directed by John Sturges (who later directed McQueen in "The Great Escape"), is based on the novel by Tom T. Chamales."
Good war, but a lousy romance
C. A. Luster | Burke, VA USA | 08/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It never fails to amuse me why someone talks the producer into making war movies into romances. The vast majority that have romance in them have done poorly. In fact "From Here To Eternity", "Casablanca", and "To Have and Have Not" are the only ones I recall that did not fail. I say the producer because they pay the bills so everyone else just listens to what they want. I didn't read the book so I suppose the writer may have put it in the book. Whatever the case it should have been cut from the movie. This movie along with many others would have been stand out movies if not for romance with poor acting females. Perhaps that is why the term bombshell was used. Because they made the movie bomb. The movie is still worth seeing, just get yourself a snack during romance scenes or fast forward."