The Young Lions (1958)

167 mins | Drama | April 1958

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writer:

Edward Anhalt

Producer:

Al Lichtman

Cinematographer:

Joseph MacDonald

Editor:

Dorothy Spencer

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Addison Hehr

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

A NYT news item of 3 Mar 1952 reported that director Fred Zinnemann was about to option the film rights for the best-seller The Young Lions , which he intended to produce and direct independently. The item also stated that Zinnemann had made overtures to Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, with whom he had previously worked, to play two of the leading roles. However, on 23 Jan 1954, NYT announced that producers Jacques Braunstein and Robert Lord had purchased the film rights for a sum in excess of $100,000. On 25 Jan 1954, FD reported that Irwin Shaw was to receive a percentage of the profits and would write the screenplay. An 11 Sep 1955 NYT news item indicated that Braunstein and Lord would produce Shaw's screenplay for United Artists release.
       According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, in Dec 1956, the studio acquired the rights to the novel from Braunstein for $50,000, plus 15% of the net profits. Additionally, Shaw was to receive $65,000 spread over ten years. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, contains a copy of Shaw's undated screenplay. All of the Twentieth Century-Fox drafts were written by Edward Anhalt. A Sep 1957 HR news item adds that Joanne Woodward was intially cast as "Hope Plowman," but left the production to appear in The Long Hot Summer (see above). An early Jun 1957 HR production chart that preceded the start of production places Tony Randall in the cast, but he ... More Less

A NYT news item of 3 Mar 1952 reported that director Fred Zinnemann was about to option the film rights for the best-seller The Young Lions , which he intended to produce and direct independently. The item also stated that Zinnemann had made overtures to Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, with whom he had previously worked, to play two of the leading roles. However, on 23 Jan 1954, NYT announced that producers Jacques Braunstein and Robert Lord had purchased the film rights for a sum in excess of $100,000. On 25 Jan 1954, FD reported that Irwin Shaw was to receive a percentage of the profits and would write the screenplay. An 11 Sep 1955 NYT news item indicated that Braunstein and Lord would produce Shaw's screenplay for United Artists release.
       According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, in Dec 1956, the studio acquired the rights to the novel from Braunstein for $50,000, plus 15% of the net profits. Additionally, Shaw was to receive $65,000 spread over ten years. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, contains a copy of Shaw's undated screenplay. All of the Twentieth Century-Fox drafts were written by Edward Anhalt. A Sep 1957 HR news item adds that Joanne Woodward was intially cast as "Hope Plowman," but left the production to appear in The Long Hot Summer (see above). An early Jun 1957 HR production chart that preceded the start of production places Tony Randall in the cast, but he does not appear in the released film. An early Nov 1957 HR production chart adds Ken Scott , John Gabriel and Gil Lasky to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Filming began in France and Germany in Jun 1957 on a budget of $2,625,700. According to a studio press release, the Struthof concentration camp near Strasbourg, which the French had preserved just as they found it, was used as a location. When the studio ran advertisements in Strasbourg newspapers for "200 very thin, emaciated men," it found that 28 of the applicants were former inmates of Struthof. The North African desert scenes were shot at Borrego Springs, CA, supplemented by footage from the 1943 British documentary Desert Victory . The final confrontation, the only scene including the three principals, was filmed near Mt. Wilson, CA. By the time filming was completed in late Oct, the cost had risen to $3,553,245. Two sequences paralleling that between "Christian" and "Margaret" on New Year's Eve 1938, were shot but deleted in editing: The sequence with "Michael" was set in a New York nightclub, while the sequence in which "Noah" watched the father he had neither known nor liked very much, die, took place in a cheap hotel in Santa Monica, CA. "Noah's" father was played by noted Jewish stage actor Jacob Ben-Ami, making what would have been his Hollywood debut at the urging of Montgomery Clift, an old friend and admirer.
       When the film opened, a good deal of criticism was leveled at the change from novel to film in the Christian character. In Shaw's novel, he was a hard-core, unregenerate Nazi, but the film presents him as a misguided "idealist" who eventually realizes the evil of the cause to which he has dedicated himself. In a 15 May 1957 memo to the producer, director and screenwriter, executive producer Buddy Adler wrote, "We need one good strong German character to speak for the German people as a whole, and to cast the guilt on the Nazis as opposed to the entire German population. A good picture today can take a million dollars out of Germany, and I am sure that unless we do something as suggested in the foregoing, this picture will not be sympathetically received in Germany."
       In a 14 Apr 1958 Life feature on the film, it was reported that Brando delivered a fifteen-hour lecture to Dmytryk, Lichtman and Anhalt in which he gave a detailed analysis of Christian Diestl's character to convince them to make changes. Dmytryk, in a 17 Mar 1978 interview, stated, "I never spent 15 hours with Marlon.... The writer, Anhalt, and I already had these ideas about the character, and explained them to Marlon." The changes in Diestl's character enraged Shaw, who, quoted in a biography of Shaw, said that Brando "played him in a sympathetic way because he wants to be sympathetic on screen." The issue of anti-Semitism, which loomed large in the novel, was diminished in the film. Adler, in the 15 May 1957 memo, in which he reacted to a draft in which the anti-Semitism was considerably less subtle, wrote, "I also recommend that in the scene in the barracks in which Noah is called 'Jew-boy,' the connotation here should not be that the bullies and the captain dislike Noah because he is a Jew, but because he is sensitive etc.... The bullies are angry with Noah not because he is Jewish, but because the whole company is being punished because Noah failed in his duty to keep the windows clean." Critics also complained about loose ends and structural problems in the screenplay. However, Dmytryk has stated that he considers the film to be one of the best he made.
       Producer Al Lichtman, longtime executive producer at MGM and former head of distribution for Twentieth Century-Fox, returned from a retirement due to health problems to produce the film, but died before it opened. This was Dean Martin's first dramatic role; his character's surname in the novel is "Whitacre," but was changed to "Whiteacre" for the film. Studio records indicate that Peter Brocco appeared in a deleted sequence. The CBCS lists Wade Cagle, Kendall Scott, Anne Stebbins and Ann Paige as cast members but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The film received Academy Award nominations in the Cinematography (Black-and-White), Sound Recording, and Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) categories. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Mar 1958.
---
Box Office
24 Mar 58
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 57
p. 16
Daily Variety
14 Mar 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
25 Jan 1954.
---
Film Daily
17 Mar 58
p. 8.
Harrison's Reports
15 Mar 58
p. 44.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 57
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 57
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 57
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 58
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1958.
---
Life
14 Apr 58
pp. 65-68.
Look
15 Apr 58
pp. 50-55.
Los Angeles Times
11 Apr 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Mar 58
p. 757.
New Republic
28 Apr 58
pp. 21-22.
New York Times
3 Mar 1952.
---
New York Times
23 Jan 1954.
---
New York Times
11 Sep 1955.
---
New York Times
2 Apr 58
p. 37.
New York Times
3 Apr 58.
---
The Exhibitor
19 Mar 58
pp. 4446-47.
Time
14 Apr 1958.
---
Variety
19 Mar 58
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Alberto Morin
Alfred Tonkel
Hubert Kerns
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Exec ward des
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr - Europe
Unit mgr - USA
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw (New York, 1948).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"How About You?" words by Ralph Freed, music by Burton Lane.
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1958
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 2 April 1958
Production Date:
17 June--late October 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 March 1958
Copyright Number:
LP10300
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
167
Length(in feet):
15,074
Length(in reels):
17
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18687
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On New Year's Eve, 1938, Christian Diestl, a Bavarian shoemaker and part-time ski instructor, is romancing American Margaret Freemantle at a party. When Margaret asks Christian if he is a Nazi party member, he replies that he is not at all political but believes that the Nazis stand for something hopeful in Germany. He explains that he had to abandon his medical studies due to the lack of free universities in Germany, and that Hitler has promised to change that. Margaret is dismayed by Christian's affiliation and leaves the party early. World War II begins, and on 24 Jun 1940, when France surrenders to Germany, Christian, now a Nazi lieutenant, reports to Captain Hardenburg on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Paris. In New York, singer Michael Whiteacre, hoping to be exempted from army service, is examined by the draft board and told to report for induction in about three months' time. At the draft board, Michael meets Noah Ackerman, who has recently arrived in New York from California. Michael invites Noah to a party that evening where he meets Margaret, now Michael's girl friend, and is introduced to Hope Plowman, who is from Vermont. Noah escorts Hope to her temporary home in Brooklyn and instantly falls in love with her. In Paris, Christian's fellow officer Brandt has arranged a blind date for him with Françoise, a friend of the French woman, Simone, he is seeing. Although Françoise at first asks Christian how many Frenchmen he has killed, she later apologizes, explaining that her husband was killed in Belgium. Christian walks her home and asks to see her again. In Vermont, Hope nervously introduces Noah to her father, having ... +


On New Year's Eve, 1938, Christian Diestl, a Bavarian shoemaker and part-time ski instructor, is romancing American Margaret Freemantle at a party. When Margaret asks Christian if he is a Nazi party member, he replies that he is not at all political but believes that the Nazis stand for something hopeful in Germany. He explains that he had to abandon his medical studies due to the lack of free universities in Germany, and that Hitler has promised to change that. Margaret is dismayed by Christian's affiliation and leaves the party early. World War II begins, and on 24 Jun 1940, when France surrenders to Germany, Christian, now a Nazi lieutenant, reports to Captain Hardenburg on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Paris. In New York, singer Michael Whiteacre, hoping to be exempted from army service, is examined by the draft board and told to report for induction in about three months' time. At the draft board, Michael meets Noah Ackerman, who has recently arrived in New York from California. Michael invites Noah to a party that evening where he meets Margaret, now Michael's girl friend, and is introduced to Hope Plowman, who is from Vermont. Noah escorts Hope to her temporary home in Brooklyn and instantly falls in love with her. In Paris, Christian's fellow officer Brandt has arranged a blind date for him with Françoise, a friend of the French woman, Simone, he is seeing. Although Françoise at first asks Christian how many Frenchmen he has killed, she later apologizes, explaining that her husband was killed in Belgium. Christian walks her home and asks to see her again. In Vermont, Hope nervously introduces Noah to her father, having told him beforehand that Noah is Jewish. Mr. Plowman and Noah walk around the small town, steeped in Puritan tradition, and as they return to Hope, Mr. Plowman tells Noah that he has never known a Jew and agrees to their marriage. In Paris, Christian asks for a transfer as he dislikes having been assigned to round up children for labor duties and is beginning to doubt his country's purpose. Hardenburg gives Christian leave to go to Berlin and asks him to deliver a present to his wife Gretchen. Gretchen seduces Christian and tells him that she knows someone on Rommel's staff who can arrange a transfer of duty. In New York, Michael has been unable to pull any strings to keep himself out of the army and must report for basic training. Margaret, who is working for the Office of War Information, is being posted overseas and wants to get married, but Michael is unwilling. The next day, Noah leaves Hope to report to the army. In North Africa, Christian and Hardenburg execute a dawn raid on an encampment of British soldiers. Hardenburg carries the attack to excess, and orders all the wounded to be killed, but Christian finds himself unable to follow that order. Noah and Michael end up in the same army platoon, where Noah is subjected to harassment by Captain Colclough, who makes him the scapegoat for the confinement of the entire platoon to the barracks for a weekend. The other soldiers try to intimidate Noah with veiled ethnic slurs. Later, when Noah discovers that money he has been saving for a birthday present for Hope has been stolen from his footlocker, he issues a challenge to the unknown thief to fight him, and when four of the largest men in the platoon admit to the theft, Noah asks Michael to be his second. When Michael reports to Capt. Colclough that Noah has been badly beaten in three fights and asks him to put a stop to it, the captain warns Michael that he has been instructed by the colonel to approve or disapprove a request to have him transferred to Special Services in London, but should he complain to the colonel about Noah's treatment, the transfer will not go through. The transfer papers come in, but Michael elects not to leave as Noah still has one more fight. Noah wins that one and then goes A.W.O.L. In North Africa, the German troops are attacked by British and American forces, but Christian and Hardenburg escape on a motorcycle. After Christian tells him that he is sick of the "great German army," Hardenburg replies that he should have shot him earlier when he disobeyed a command. The motorcycle hits a land mine. In America, a pregnant Hope visits Noah in army detention and tells him that a lawyer has indicated to her that if he returns to his old company, he will not go to prison. Noah goes back and faces the wrath of Colclough, who fully expects to continue his persecution of Noah; however, the colonel informs him that he will be court-martialed for his actions against Noah and Michael. Noah's fellow soldiers welcome him back and present him with a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses , which Colclough had confiscated, and inside it, the money he lost. Christian, now a captain, visits Hardenburg in a hospital and finds him with his head totally bandaged. Hardenburg asks him to visit Gretchen again to reassure her that he is "salvageable." He also asks Christian to bring him a bayonet with which to kill a fellow patient, who is beyond hope and wants to die. In Berlin, before visiting Gretchen, Christian witnesses the devastation and misery of the city. Gretchen tells him that her husband has killed himself with a bayonet, adding that she had written to him telling him not to return, that he would be better off in a permanent veterans' hospital. When Gretchen propositions him, Christian pushes her away in disgust and leaves. Christian meets Brandt again and they drive back to Paris to meet Simone and Françoise. Brandt tells Christian that Germany has lost the war and that he intends to desert. Christian tells Françoise that the thought of seeing her again kept him going through the horrors he has witnessed. She urges him to desert, but during the night he leaves a farewell note to her, "Forgive me, I love you but I am a German soldier." In London, Michael and Margaret are together in a club during an air raid. Michael has turned down promotions, choosing to remain a private, but feeling guilt about having Noah and the others do his fighting for him, decides to return to his old company, now fighting in Normandy. He tells Margaret they will get married upon his return. In Vermont, Hope, now the mother of a baby girl, receives a letter from Noah promising to return to them. In Normandy, when they are pinned down by enemy fire, Noah, with Michael's help, rescues several of the men who had fought him. In Germany, when the retreating convoy with which Christian is now fighting is strafed by a plane, he wanders away and comes upon the Nackerholtz concentration camp. The camp's commander complains to him about the difficulties of running such a camp and receives orders, by phone, to kill every man, woman and child in the camp, 6,000 people, before the American troops arrive. The commandant encourages Christian to face the enemy when they arrive, doing his duty for the fatherland, but Christian wanders on very distraught and despairing. Noah and Michael's company liberate the camp and bring the local mayor to witness the horror therein. A rabbi, a former prisoner, asks permission of the company's captain to hold a religious service in the camp, and the captain guarantees that he can, over the protests of the mayor who states that this will cause riots. Noah and Michael are walking in the woods around the camp when the sound of Christian destroying his machine gun against a tree stump attracts them. As Christian walks toward them, Michael shoots and kills him. The war ends and Noah returns to New York to Hope and his daughter. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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