Review: The Men
Blu-ray: The Men (1950)
During World War II, U.S. Lieutenant Wilocek (Marlon Brando in his first cinema role) is shot in the back, severing his spinal cord. We next see him alone in his own room, away from the other injured soldiers in a VA hospital and refusing to see his fiancé Ellen (Theresa Wright). Cared for by ‘firm but fair’ Doctor Brock (Everrett Sloane), the story follows Wilocek and his pals as they navigate disability…Hollywood style.
Although The Men isn’t a hard-core look at war and disability, it’s a very interesting film. Brando spent a month in bed at the Birmingham Army paraplegic hospital, and director Fred Zinneman used real nurses and real disabled war veterans as Brando’s co-stars, most notably Arthur Jurado who became disabled when his plane was shot down during WW2. This film was also banned in the UK because there is a discussion near the beginning where Dr Brock tells a room full of ladies that their men may not be able to father children.
Renowned for his method acting, there’s no sign of it from Brando in this performance, and it’s pretty run-of-the-mill acting with none of the emotional fireworks you’d expect from an early Brando performance (I think he was saving it up for A Streetcar Named Desire the following year).
- Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
- Includes newly created English subtitles for the Deaf and partial hearing on the feature, and the short films Return to Action and The Undefeated
- Newly recorded audio commentary by filmmaker and film historian Jim Hemphill
- Return to Action (1947, 19 mins): bricklayers, lawyers, teachers – disabled men and women are encouraged to retrain for new jobs in this short film produced on behalf of the Ministry of Labour
- The Undefeated (1950, 35 mins): released in the same month as The Men, Paul Dickson’s film charts the progress of a disabled ex-glider pilot through the rehabilitation schemes organised by the Ministry of Pensions
- Interview with Carl Foreman (1969, 82 mins, audio only): an in-depth interview with the award-winning screenwriter recorded at the National Film Theatre
- Original trailer
- Stills gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork and a newly commissioned design by Jennifer Dionisio
- **FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Illustrated booklet with new writing by Philip Kemp, Scott Harrison and Victoria Millington, a contemporary review, and writing on the extras by Tony Dykes and Katy McGahan
Released 16th May 2022.
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by the BFI.