Even in his first movie, Brando's ability to transcend mediocre material is very much in evidence. The Men, a ward full of war veteran paraplegics under the stern but loving care of Doctor Everett Sloane, struggle to come to terms with their predicament, hoping eventually to exchange their own tough bonhomie for the world outside. Although Stanley Kramer's typically soapy production focuses attention on Brando's tempestuous relationship (wrecked by his feelings of shame and inadequacy) with devoted fiancée Teresa Wright (all syrupy sincerity), the film timidly skirts problems of sexual frustration and impotence. It also almost totally ignores the cause of the paraplegics' disabilities: not one of them ever expresses regret at having ruined life and limb for Uncle Sam. Despite the worthy wetness, however, young Marlon manages to sidestep sentimentality; even confined to a wheelchair, the raw power underlying his controlled gestures and brooding glances is charismatic.
Cast and crew
Howard St John