Young and the Brave The (1963)
Except for the fact that it was shot in letterbox format this film is not unlike a TV “Movie of the Week” given it’s pedestrian direction and cinematography. It was directed by Francis Lyon an Oscar winning co-editor of the John Garfield boxing film Body and Soul (1947) and sometime feature film director who directed several TV series before and one after he did this one. The story and screenplay were also written by persons whose resumes are filled with TV (series) work: Ronald Davidson & Harry Slott and Beirne Lay Jr. respectively. The film’s score cinematography and art direction were done by TV trained professionals as well. The plot is fairly straightforward: it’s about three American escaped P.O.W.’s during the Korean War who must find their way back to safety. They are assisted by a 7 year old boy played by Manuel Padilla Jr. who played Jai to Ron Ely’s Tarzan in the TV series as well as several feature films and a German Shepard K-9. Though it’s far from the worst movie I’ve ever seen I would have felt gypped if I’d paid to see it.
Master Sergeant Ed Brent (Rory Calhoun) Sergeant Peter Kane (William Bendix – Wake Island (1942)) and Private Kirk Wilson (Robert Ivers) have escaped from their captors in North Korea and are making their way south towards Attong a village just north of the South Korean border. They are able to rest in the shack of a Korean family until Han (Padilla) who was smoking cigarettes as he watched the countryside alerts them to a pursuing patrol. Han then watches helplessly on the hillside while his family is murdered by the “Commies”. The unarmed P.O.W.’s unable to prevent the massacre continue on their journey.
Han finds a small outpost and a blown up jeep where he befriends a stranded German Shepard and locates K rations (food). His path intersects that of the P.O.W.’s who must then decide what to do with the boy and “his” dog now named Lobo (an Hispanic not a Korean name just like actor Padilla). Brent decides they must help the boy whereas Kane & Wilson vote to go on without him. They decide that they’ll go their separate ways in the morning but Han tries to escape when everyone is asleep. Almost immediately Lobo starts barking and attacks a fourth man who turns out to be Corporal John Estway (Richard Jaeckel – Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)). Though he has a gun and a radio with dead batteries Estway is not thought highly of by the others because he’d evidently broadcast messages not unlike Tokyo Rose encouraging Americans to lay down their weapons. However he apologizes for his actions and is quickly assimilated into the rejoined group. We learn later that he too had been a P.O.W. that was tortured into those treasonous acts.
The group inadvertently walks into a minefield which is discovered when Wilson steps on a mine and is blown to bits. They then learn that Lobo is a trained K-9 and the dog leads them through the dangerous area. The three soldiers Lobo and Han who both Brent & Kane discuss adopting continue to avoid danger until they come upon another farm’s shack on which they see a radio antenna. They decide that they must have a radio before they get much closer to their own border and therefore must investigate the shack. After discussing several options Han volunteers to approach it himself. When he does he is quickly taken inside where screaming is heard. Before they can act the North Korean patrol exits the shack while one of the soldiers (Weaver Levy) beats the boy. Though Han directs them in the other direction two of the soldiers head towards the place where the P.O.W.’s and Lobo are hiding.
At this point you should probably be able to guess that the Americans with one gun and an attack dog will successfully ambush and kill all the machine gun totting “Commies”. If that seems too unbelievable “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”. There are still TWO incredible incidents involving a rescue helicopter pilot (Robert Goshen) a ridiculously staged gunfight and another “hard to believe what must have gone on” unseen exchange between Kane and an Army Colonel (Richard Arlen) which leads to a too pat ending for all involved. John Agar appears as an intelligence Captain.