Frank Sinatra Shines in “Never So Few”

Loosely inspired by actual events, the underrated WWII drama Never So Few blended intrigue, adventure and romance into a story about Allied guerrilla forces in Southern Asia. An American captain (Frank Sinatra) must lead his men against not only the Japanese, but also a traitorous Chinese warlord in 1943 Burma — encountering much peril along the way. Today the film remains a high point in Sinatra’s acting career, with Ol’ Blue Eyes showing an impressive amount of range in the picture. Helping further cement its legacy as a forgotten gem is a dynamic supporting cast which also includes Peter Lawford and Gina Lollobrigida, along with early supporting turns by Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. (Hollywood legend has it that McQueen’s role was originally supposed to have been played by Sammy Davis Jr., until Davis allegedly earned Sinatra’s ire by speaking somewhat negatively about him during a radio interview). Because of the film’s tacked on romantic subplot, audiences and critics were left feeling that Never So Few was something of a disjointed picture. This is indeed a fair criticism, but the film still has some substantial charms and engaging sequences along with the aforementioned performances from some of the greatest players in Hollywood history. Word spread quickly about its uneven nature however, and the film fared poorly at the box office. That said, it still is a motion picture worth checking out, if for no other reason than to see McQueen and Bronson before they became superstars. Give it a watch, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.