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In Never So Few (1959) Frank Sinatra heads back to World War II. This time it's Burma where Sinatra commands a small group of American and British guerillas using hit-and-run tactics against much larger Japanese forces. However, he's ordered back to Calcutta to pick up a doctor (Peter Lawford) and much-needed medical supplies. While there, Sinatra is shown the sights by a military driver (Steve McQueen) and falls for the mysterious Carla (Gina Lollobrigida), the girlfriend of a local gunrunner. Eventually Sinatra must head back to his troops, accompanied by Lawford and McQueen. On the way, they're surprised by the Japanese in Burma and discover secret arms movements by the Nationalist Chinese while trying to get more than just lukewarm support from the higher command.
Never So Few was conceived as something of another "Rat Pack" film with Sinatra, Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. but a temporary squabble between Sinatra and Davis led to Steve McQueen getting Davis' intended part. At this time McQueen was best known for starring in TV's Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958-61) though a few drive-in theatre buffs may have remembered him from The Blob (1958). It was a lucky break for McQueen, who so impressed director John Sturges that Sturges would use the actor for starring roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963) (along with Charles Bronson, who has a smaller part in Never So Few). Keep an eye out during a hospital scene for George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu).
Director: John Sturges
Producer: Edmund Grainger
Screenplay: Millard Kaufman, based on the novel by Tom T. Chamales
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: Ferris Webster
Art Direction: Addison Hehr, Hans Peters
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Cast: Frank Sinatra (Tom Reynolds), Gina Lollobrigida (Carla Vesari), Peter Lawford (Captain Grey Travis), Steve McQueen (Bill Ringa), Richard Johnson (Captain Danny De Mortimer), Paul Henreid (Nikko Regas).
C-125m. Letterboxed. Close captioning.
by Lang Thompson